John Wooden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & a Sports Parent


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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for Coach John Wooden from 1967–1969, contributing to the team's three-year record of 88 wins and only two losses.

His relationship with Coach lasted the rest of his life. He rushed to the hospital to be at Coach's bedside the day he died.

Here is a short video of Kareem speaking at the John Wooden Memorial service.

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In his speech, Kareem says, "Coach's value system was from another era. It was developed in an America that has passed on ..."

That pained me.

It does not have to be "of another era" if we choose to bring it back, to coach that way ...

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I had an insightful conversation with a “sports parent” yesterday.

This man has a daughter on a lacrosse team whose season just ended. His daughter is one of the more talented players on the team so playing time and such was never an issue.

She has plenty of college offers and opportunities - that was not the issue.

The team was very talented, has had plenty of on-field success in the past and was well positioned for a deep playoff run yet again.

“In two words, the season was frustrating and disappointing.

The girls did not like each other and it showed both on and off the field. This was obvious from the first day of the season and yet nothing was ever done about it.

All the emphasis was on personal stats. That was all the coaches spoke of after wins and after losses.

My daughter has been playing sports all her life. On almost all of her teams, the girls become friends, they care about one another and they want to spend time with one another.

And usually, the more that happens, the more they win, both on and off the field.

What I find the most sad is that the graduating seniors, all of them are going to college yet none of them will be playing a sport, so this, quite possibly, was there very last team-sports experience-memory.

A sad, underperforming few months that they are glad is over. That was their last HS sports experience.”

Simply put, as human beings each of us is one person, body and soul.

Mind, body and spirit.

All 3 are extremely important in the realm of sports.

Spirit encompasses - virtue, motivation, team chemistry, friendship, passion … the desire and love for one another.

This is quite possibly the area where the coaches can have the biggest impact.

And yet there are so many coaches who refuse to spend any time focusing on it.

There simply isn’t enough time, many say.

Maybe this is why Kareem said that it was of another era.

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Spending time mentoring, sharing, building relationships ... this is what is THE BEST way to spend your time coaching.

Yes, we have to watch film and teach the x's and o's and get the muscle memory in and review the technique. Yes, absolutely.

But if that is all we have time for ... it is very easy to have the "sports parent" experience described above.

We need to make time for both.

If we truly want to be successful both on and off the field/court/mat/pool ... longterm we must find the time.

John Wooden was head coach at UCLA where he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than two in a row. Within this period, his teams won a men's basketball-record 88 consecutive games.

Apparently Coach Wooden had the time.


Virtue = Strength, 
Lou Judd 
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