At 92 the Wizard of Westwood--who won 10 national titles at
UCLA--still has strong opinions on the game.
SI: How closely do you follow college hoops?
Wooden: I go to all of UCLA's home games. In the 27 years since I
retired, I've missed a half-dozen games.
SI: Name the one thing you'd eliminate from the college game?
Wooden: Freshmen. Players are more ready athletically than they
are socially or academically. The social adjustment is very
difficult for the vast majority of them. New surroundings. New
friends. It's a tough year.
SI: Do you have any advice for LeBron James?
Wooden: Last year at the Final Four in Atlanta he came up to me
in the lobby of the hotel and introduced himself. I said, 'Well,
you're going to finish school, aren't you? He said, 'Oh, yes.' I
was thinking college. He was thinking high school.
SI: What impact has TV had on the NCAA game?
Wooden: To an extent it has made actors out of some players,
coaches and officials. It has also brought about an enormous
number of Sunday games, and I never felt there should be
intercollegiate competitions on Sundays. TV has been terrible for
the collegiate game, but the money it has brought in has been a
tremendous help for non-income-producing sports.
SI: How do you spend your time?
Wooden: I live [in Encino, Calif.] within 55 miles of my 11
great-grandchildren, seven grandchildren and two children. I
spend as much time with them as possible. I do a little writing
and considerable reading, and I speak at a lot of charity events.
SI: Ever get a hankering to coach again?
Wooden: The only thing I miss are the practices. A few years ago
I was in Durham, and Coach K invited me to watch [Duke's]
practice. Oh, boy, that made me feel like I'd like to get back in
SI: Your well-known Pyramid of Success is a blueprint for success
on and off the court. Define success.
Wooden: Success is peace of mind attained only through
self-satisfaction in knowing you've made the effort to do the
best of which you're capable. People ask me: Have you lived up to
your pyramid? My answer is always the same: No. But I've tried.
For more from John Wooden, go to si.com/scorecard.
COLOR PHOTO: DARRON CUMMINGS/AP (WOODEN) Had words with LeBron