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Lakers, Celtics and ESPN analysts share reflections on John Wooden

NBA Finals participants express their thoughts on John Wooden a day after the legendary coach's death at age 99. Below is a video featuring ESPN analysts Jack Ramsey, Hubie Brown, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson as well as Lakers reserve forwards Lamar Odom and Luke Walton.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: "To say he was a great coach I think doesn't do it any justice. I think his legacy speaks for itself. The personal experience that I've had with him was the first time ‑‑ I saw him once at a UCLA basketball game when I was really young and we spoke briefly, and then we spoke at length at Chick Hearn's funeral. We spoke for about 25, 30 minutes.

I think if you talk to any of his players, players that played for him, I think the thing that's consistent is that he made them better people, you know. I think that would be a true mark of his legacy. The winning and all that stuff, that's stuff that we all know about."

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson: I guess of the 150,000 people that are reciting John's legendary fame, I just stand in awe of the guy. I think as a young basketball player growing up and watching the '62 Bruins, the '63 Bruins, the era that I came out of high school and watching this team, this pesky team of 6-5 guys, Keith Erickson and Walt Hazzard, Gail Goodrich roll out a great record and play the incredible defense that they played with the speed that they played at, I think that that was my first awareness of John Wooden.

You know, obviously one of his Final Four games [in 1964] was against my colleague, Tex Winter. They had great a rivalry going. Tex always tells the story that his team was ahead by four points going into the last stretch of the ballgame, and there was a blizzard out in Kansas. The game's in Kansas City which was close to Manhattan, Kansas, where he was coaching at Kansas State, and then the UCLA girls showed up and the cheerleaders led his team on, the Bruins, on to victory. He said, I think the referees got enamored with the Bruins cheerleaders, all those beautiful California girls.

So that's a 40-year-ago, 50-year-ago vision in a man who was eventually -- went on to win nine more championships in a number of years. He did it then with unbelievable talent, talent started coming in his direction with obviously Lew Alcindor -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- and a myriad of other players that came in there. But that first initial group [that] won has always kind of [held] a special place as to his activity, how he prepared his teams, their defensive mind-set, and the things that he really believed in basketball as a coach."

Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers: He was the best coach ever, him and Red Auerbach are the two guys that we talk about, the gods, and there are two of them. So the fact that I got to meet him and he actually knew my name, to me blew me away in its own right. I don't ask for a lot of autographs, and he was one that I wanted, and he was as gracious as we thought he would be.

You know, to have those two on your desk, I don't think you need to further your collection. You know, those are the two best.

Tough, sad loss, really, for all of us. But with Wooden, I think he's one of the rare superstars that stood out more about him as a person than he did as a coach or anything. And that's rare, when you say that about any star in any business.

Boston forward Paul Pierce

"I'm very familiar with what John Wooden has done for the game of basketball. When I talk about basketball, I don't mean the college game, I mean all of basketball. I look at him really on the same level as what Red Auerbach did for the game of basketball except he coached the college level. I had a chance to meet him a couple of times, so just being able to follow UCLA and the tradition he built there, it's kind of similar to what you've done here in Boston and what you've done in Los Angeles. His influence on the game has been awesome, and when you see an icon like that pass away, your heart just goes out to him and his family."

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

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Someone needs to remind Doc Rivers that Phil has won more championships than Red. That would make Phil and John Wooden the greatest basketball coaches ever.

And to put someone as classless as Red Auerbach in the same category as the great John Wooden is quite insulting and delusional in its own right.

Hence my desire for Phil to light a cigar at mid court after winning the title.

In fact, do it regardless of where the clinching game takes place, although Boston would taste oh so sweet.

Always regretted turning down John Wooden when he tried to recruit me back in the days. To this day I always dream of what could have been had I agreed instead of going to that school famous for its engineering. Dang, with his tutelage I could have been the best assistant equipment manager in the basketball world. (and yes pHred, I do have a sense of humor)

To John Wooden, thank you for the memories.

p ang-

jeez, what did i say?

Someone said the entire team should light up cigars on the ugly parquet floor when we clinch the Finals.


I agree with that. It would be a sweet in your face moment for the Lakers and their fans everywhere to all the classless players, coaches and fans from beantown.


Stupid septics. They need humiliation on a large scale, and our beloved Lakers are just the team to give it to them.


Cuz this is the NBA. And it's where caring happens.

The fact Pierce put coach Wooden on same level with Auerbach shows that he is brain dead not even a miracle and a wheelchair will cure him this time.

RIP, Coach Wooden. Class, through and through.

Go Lake Show!

Guys, no cigars, please....We are the LAKERS!!
We don't smoke cigars...
The win will be enough.
Cheers.

Magic Phil - how about they light them up, then crush them out on the parquet?

The only thing I want our Lakers to be smoking is the celtics.

Justa, they beat us in 2008, we'll beat them 2010...Lighting a cigar will only praise the Celts, we should just react the same way as we'd react after beating any other team. Treating them as any other team would send a message: There's the Lakers and there's the rest.
Cheers.

Red Auerbach a "god of coaches"....c'mon....there's a guy at Duke, who's pretty good. There was a Smith at UNC that was pretty good. The same stuff that's going on now was probably going on back then. The Lakers having evacuated the EAST, I know people call it the MIDWEST or something like that, but it's frickin far EAST from here. These people were probably all ragged out that they still had defrost their nuts, chestnuts during Christmas, and that the Lakers had followed the Dodgers to a beautiful part of the country. By the way, whenever they used to broadcast the Rose Parade, I always prayed for rain and horrible conditions, so that those East people would stay on the East. We do not need your vacation money, we do not need that "snowbird" action....atay home and freeze....

I think Doc Rivers is probably even a better coach than that red arsebutt....how could you not win in such small league with the players you probably paid under the table, hey....someone probably taught that to McHale.....

Pierce...if you were so enamored by him....why Kanasas???? I must have missed the Beach Boys song called "Kansas Girls"....geez....I'm dyin here, everyone's trying to be so P.C.

HIGH ON THE LAKERS !!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I was cruising West Marin early this morning high on the Lakers and other mind enhancing pleasures when I finally realized this series is over. Oh, I know the refs could gift the Celtics a game or Ray Allen might shoot them into an odd win, but bottom line, the matchups that favored the Celtics in 2008 all now favor the Lakers, and these are not matchups that are likely to change from game to game. I look for the Lakers to come out and repeat their complete domination of the Celtics this Sunday night.
~
While basketball is a team game, when you break it down to its basics, its still all about the matchups. That is what you always need to remember when you analyze this series. What either team did during the regular season or against other teams or in their last series doesn’t matter. Momentum doesn’t even matter. It can disappear in a second with the wrong matchups. What Game 1 demonstrated was the Lakers’ superiority in three key matchups: Kobe vs. Pierce, Drew vs. Perkins, and Pau vs. KG.
~
The main key to the series is which Finals MVP shows up? 2007 MVP Paul Pierce or 2009 MVP Kobe Bryant. Both players entered the series playing great basketball but the matchups they’re facing have changed dramatically from 2008. The 2010 Celtics no longer have James Posey to slow down Kobe Bryant while the 2010 Lakers now have former DPOY Ron Artest to hound Paul Pierce. Game 1 showed the matchups now clearly favor Kobe, who should win his second straight Finals MVP.
~
My favorite Paula moment by the way was when Kobe drilled that unbelievable fade-away jumper after Pau won a jump ball with just 3 seconds left on the shot clock. Just as Kobe nailed the shot, the camera scanned the Celtics bench and you could see Pierce groan and drop his head and cover his face with his hands. You could just sense right there that Pierce knew he was in for a long losing battle against Kobe and a Lakers team that was just too big and too good for the aging Celtics to defeat.
~
The other big change in matchups from 2008 was at center and power forward. Without Drew in 2008, Gasol had to play center against Perkins while Lamar played power forward opposite KG, matchups both of which were dominated by the Celtics. This series the dynamic shifted dramatically because of the availability of Andrew Bynum, whose presence completely changes everything. Drew played against Perkins while Paul went against KG, both of which matchups favor the Lakers.
~
If you love Kobe Bryant then you have to be smiling even if he won’t because the Lakers played what I thought was one of their greatest playoff games ever. It was the performance that showed the genius behind the moves Mitch made to put this team together, the lessons that Phil extolled to peak right now, and leadership and camaraderie that Kobe Bryant has shown in orchestrating the game plan. We are watching greatness in a player, coach, team, franchise happening right before our eyes.
~
Game 2 is the statement game, the game you cannot let the other team steal, the game that you cannot lose in a 2-3-2 format, the game that let the doubters, the Celtics, and the rest of the NBA world know that this series, and most likely, this Celtics team, are over. If Kobe Bryant outplays Paul Pierce, Andrew Bynum negates Kendrick Perkins, and Pau Gasol dominates KG, there is no way the Celtics can possibly win this series. The only question is whether they can even steal a game or two.
~
Reading the blog is a Lakerholic’s dream. Each line is pure pharmaceutical high. Each insight and observation gratifying, each cheer and hurrah inspiring. Blog-sync-think is at an all time high as Lakers fans sense greatness. The miracle of it all is that even MM’s hurricane approach to threads can’t seem to prevent great comment after great comment from being posted. It’s Lakerholic’s nirvana, almost scary in the sense that the information available is approaching too much.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

I agree with EJK, I don't think John Wooden is in the same level of Red A. Yes, they were good coaches in their own right that dominated their league but they differ in so many other disciplines. Red is the best coach Celtics ever had, a hall of famer and that's it. He is no role model with those puffing smoke in chastising opponents who are already defeated, he needs to boost his ego being a superior Easterner. On the other hand, I would give credit to Red Auerback for playing and in relying on his black players at the height of civil rights era.

John Wooden is a consummate teacher both on the basketball court as well in real life including 0rdinary individuals. His book, Pyramid of Success is used by companies as training tool for their sales force because its principles applies at any product or at any age. How many individuals today are moved by the death of John Wooden? Yes, he has lived full length of life at age 99, and yet people for asking for more encore from John Wooden, 7 decades with JW is too short. They don't want to end the world of John Wooden's - Life is Good. Unfortunately, nobody is immortal. His flesh may be gone but his legacy lives on.

How about a new chant at Laker/Celtic games.....

"RED IS DEAD!!! REF IS DEAD!!!"

Actually PJ himself is a cigar aficionado since his Knicks days:

"I like Montecristos, Romeo y Julieta, Fuentes, Macanudos and Cohibas, if they're made in Cuba. Every year, I also get a box of cigars from one of the Bulls' owners. They're Gana Dophilinos, which is a really nice small cigar."

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/People_Profile/0,2540,65,00.html

I am glad the NBA players and coaches agree he's the best coach in basketball.
John Wooden is one of a kind. A life well-lived. Great words from Jack Ramsay,
Hubie Brown, Jeff van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce. At least there are kind words in the midst of the 2010 NBA Finals between the Lakers and the Celtics.

Those are great clips, thanks for posting.

LakerTom,

you wrote: I was cruising West Marin early this morning high on the Lakers and other mind enhancing pleasures when I finally realized this series is over. Oh, I know the refs could gift the Celtics a game or Ray Allen might shoot them into an odd win, but bottom line, the matchups that favored the Celtics in 2008 all now favor the Lakers, and these are not matchups that are likely to change from game to game. I look for the Lakers to come out and repeat their complete domination of the Celtics this Sunday night.
~
While basketball is a team game, when you break it down to its basics, its still all about the matchups. That is what you always need to remember when you analyze this series. What either team did during the regular season or against other teams or in their last series doesn’t matter. Momentum doesn’t even matter. It can disappear in a second with the wrong matchups. What Game 1 demonstrated was the Lakers’ superiority in three key matchups: Kobe vs. Pierce, Drew vs. Perkins, and Pau vs. KG.

my response:

With respect, this is how championships are lost. Dallas was up 2-0 and
got served by Miami.

Lakers vs. Phx up 3-1 and we lost.

While your comments about matchups carry some wait, what is more
important than matchups is character. Championships are not awarded.
They are taken from the cold dead hands of the conquered.

We must not assume that we have won. We must not assume that they will
roll over. We must not assume that the matchups favor us.

WE MUST PLAY LIKE CHAMPIONS!

MM

Very nice thread.

People that talk about John Wooden as a mere coach are missing 75% of the man.

He will definitely rest in peace. His was a life as well lead as man can. Selfless, excellent, realized potential.

The man communicated his old school message to kids from the 60's till the present time, remaining beloved and relevant till his last breath. It doesn't get better.

LakerTom & Hobbit,

Both of you make excellent points regarding matchups and just flat out playing like champions. The Lakers must continue to take it to the Celtics and leave nothing to chance. They must have more physicality and defensive intensity than the Celtics can muster. The Celtics are unlike any team that the Lakers have ever faced, period. They were champions 2 years ago(no reminder needed with 131-92 around), could've possibly been there last year had KG not gotten hurt and overcame great odds in defeating both the favored Cavs and Magic to be here now. Here and now is where the Lakers mental toughness will be tested as much if not more than their physical toughness. The Lakers must be of the mindset that no matter what adjustments the Celtics make, the Lakers must remain aggressive and attack the basket continuously. It's all about heart and smarts in this series.

ctran....

The fact Pierce put coach Wooden on same level with Auerbach shows that he is brain dead not even a miracle and a wheelchair will cure him this time.

Posted by: ctran | June 05, 2010 at 07:33 PM

Agreed. Doc Rivers mentioned Auerbach, too. So, if Auerbach was so great, where does that leave Phil Jackson? Anyway, Coach Wooden's legacy is incomparable. He stood out from all coaches before him and after him. And as we all know, that was the least part of his life. May he rest in peace.

hobbittimage....

I hope the Lakers are not buying into all the hype between games. As you so clearly said, they need to remain focused and keep their feet on the Celtics' neck. One game does not a series make. I won't be happy and feel relieved until the final horn of the Lakers' fourth win in this series.

I would like to have heard what Gail Goodrich said about Coach Wooden.

Gail doesn't get enough credit as a Laker.

Anyhow, I met Coach Wooden about six years ago at Springbok Bar & Grill in Lake Balboa in the Valley.

He was sitting at a table with six enrapt men hanging on his every word. As I approached the table, the six men looked over at me, protectively of Coach Wooden. I assume they thought I wanted an autograph.

I said, "Excuse me, Coach Wooden. I don't mean to entrude. It's just that I'm a Bruin."

The group of men's faces turned to smiles and Coach Wooden said, "Well, that's a very good thing to be."

I smiled and said, "I just wanted to thank you for everything that you've done for the school and our heritage in sports and basketball itself. You've taught us all a lot and I just needed to take advantage of this opportunity to let you know that I appreciate all you've done for us. Thank you, sir."

He responded with an aura of gentle kindness and wisdom, "Well, young man, I'm glad that you came to speak with us. It was very nice that you came by."

We shared smiles. I shook his hand. And then I left them to their privacy.

It is a memory I will always cherish.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Auerbach was a fine coach, but he was no John Wooden.

Not even remotely close.

I'm sure Phil noted that despite all his rings he wasn't mentioned in the conversation by the Septics.

I'm sure he did.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!


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