He turned a pyramid into the cornerstone of competitive sports.
Few individuals are so deeply woven into the identity of UCLA as Coach John Wooden. He led the Bruins to 10 national championships, including four undefeated seasons, two of them back-to-back. Yet he didn’t measure success by winning-a notion that would probably be met with resistance at most university athletic programs. At UCLA, Wooden was free and encouraged to instill his unique coaching ethos-one that defined success as peace of mind from knowing you put forth your absolute effort, regardless of the outcome. He gave us the “Pyramid of Success,” a tool designed to build players from the bottom up. With pillars like “sincerity,” “patience,” “industrious” and “friendship,” its impact spread beyond the court and it has become as iconic as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton and the many players it helped shape. It seems ironic that a man who saw winning as secondary would go on to win more national championships than any other coach in college basketball history.