The man who lead UCLA basketball to an unprecedented 10 national championships over a 12-year period, and who was a staple in the stands after his retirement, was honored Friday with a statue outside the newly renovated Pauley Pavillion in Westwood.
An 8-foot, 400-pound bronze statue stands tall on the UCLA campus celebrating the late coach who led the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich during his 27-year career.
Basketball great Ann Meyers Drysdale hosted the unveiling and noted that the modest coach, who died in 2010 at 99 years old, would have downplayed such a ceremony.
"He'd probably pooh-pooh this," Meyers Drysdale said. "He was not one to draw attention to himself."
Nan Wooden said, "He's probably shaking his head, saying, 'I don't deserve this.'"
Greg Wooden said his grandfather "would have been against it unless his whole team could be out there."
Current members of the Bruin basketball team were in attendance along with the school band, cheerleaders, students, and alumni.
How did the current coach, Ben Howland, think of the statue? "It really captures Coach," he told the Associated Press.
Howland's 189–83 record at UCLA is impressive, but pales in comparison to Wooden's 620–147 at the school.
UCLA alum Jim Collins and his wife, Carol, funded the statue. Collins, chairman emeritus of Sizzler International, recalled asking Wooden to serve on the steak restaurant's board of directors because the coach and his wife, Nell, ate at the location near their home most days.
"For nine years he never missed a meeting," Collins declared.
At the base of the statue is a plaque that contains one of Wooden's inspiring quotes:
"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable."