Reflecting on a Legend


“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” – Psalm 84:10 (ESV)

Four days ago marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who died at the age of 99 on June 4, 2010.
It’s said that while talking with his son before he died, Wooden told him that he needed to shave because he was going to see his bride very soon. He knew his final breath was coming, and he wanted to be ready to meet his Maker and see his wife.
I think it’s important that we remember Coach Wooden. He left an amazing example for all coaches—no matter what the sport—to follow. NBA great Jerry West said, “He did not have two sets of rules for his players…They all played under the same rules.” Wooden was true to his faith in Christ, true to his family, and true to his fundamentals of life, which had been taught to him by his parents back in Indiana so many years ago.
As great a coach as Wooden was on this earth, and as many titles and trophies he won, I just bet that he would have traded them for a single day in the presence of the Lord. I’m sure that even the greatest feeling of a national title was nothing compared to the moment when Wooden met Christ face-to-face. Coach knew that Heaven, not Westwood, was not his true home. He lived a simple life and passed it on to many. He held seven personal “keys to life,” and followed them closely. They included…
1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.
We can learn a lot from examining Wooden’s keys to life. I know I have. But Coach Wooden is now in a better Hall of Fame—one with streets of gold. There, his championships mean nothing, and he can sit with his bride and share the joy of Heaven with the saints of old. I thank the Lord for this man’s impact, influence and Christ-like example. Today, may we reflect on the legend and be encouraged to live for and model Christ above all.


1. What is your favorite John Wooden saying, book or memory?
2. Which of Wooden’s “keys to life” do you need to put into practice? Why?
3. How will you incorporate that key?
4. What will you take from Wooden’s legacy to apply to your coaching, competing and lifestyle?


Philippians 1:3
Matthew 25:23
Titus 2:7 (How Wooden taught.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jere Johnson is a FCA staff member from Chicago area


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