The final book by John Wooden will be released in July instead of September, announced the publisher for the legendary basketball and life coach this week.
The Wisdom of Wooden, which Wooden co-wrote with author Steve Jamison, was originally set to release just weeks ahead of the former UCLA basketball coach’s 100th birthday in celebration of his winning experiences, life lessons, inspirations, motivations, and memories.
Wooden, however, died of natural causes last Friday at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he had been since May 26.
As a result, publisher McGraw-Hill decided to change the release date to early July as countless people around the world continue to mourn his death.
“The Wisdom of Wooden is a lifetime of Coach Wooden’s ideas on how to live life without sacrificing your moral principles,” states former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his endorsement of the book. “His life is a prime example of how this can be done that we can all learn from.”
Hailed by many as the greatest coach in the history of American sports, Wooden was as famous for his powerful personal philosophy as he was for his record-setting career achievements.
In addition to being the first person inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, Wooden motivated, inspired, and continued to guide generations of fans through his books and his well-known words of wisdom, which appear in his popular “Pyramid of Success” as well as his seven-point creed.
“His success transcends on-the-court achievement and speaks to larger issues such as integrity, personal relationships, and respect,” commented Les Steckel, president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, who is also releasing a book on Wooden in July.
“I believe the reason he was so successful was because Coach Wooden modeled his life after the example of Jesus Christ,” he added.
As a coach, Wooden led the UCLA Bruins to seven consecutive NCAA championships, ten titles, and an NCAA-record 88-game winning streak.
During his time at UCLA, Wooden also coached many of the game's greatest players such as Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor – later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
But as his players testify, Wooden's mission wasn't to teach them to become good basketball players.
“He rarely talked about basketball, but generally about life,” Walton recalled following Wooden’s death.
“He never talked about strategy, statistics or plays, but rather about people and character,” the Basketball Hall of Famer added. “Coach Wooden never tired of telling us that once you become a good person, then you have a chance of becoming a good basketball player.”
In his endorsement of Wooden’s upcoming book, Walton had thanked his coach for his faith and patience, testifying that the “Wisdom of Wooden has given me the life that I have.”
Filled with personal memories, fatherly advice, and more than 100 photographs - some never-before-seen - The Wisdom of Wooden is a tribute to the life of the famed coach, who spent it serving and teaching others.
McGraw-Hill says the book offers a lifetime worth of personal insights, directives, and conclusions that are illustrated with rare photographs.
“Starting with his father’s famous 7 Point Creed – including such timeless truths as ‘Be true to yourself’ and ‘Make every day your masterpiece’ – Coach Wooden shares the proven secrets of success and values-based vision that helped him become an All American at Purdue, a winning coach at Indiana State, and an historic national sports figure at UCLA,” the publisher states in the book’s description. “Most important, Coach Wooden shares his unflagging commitment to family, friends, and faith – his final and perhaps most important lesson of all.”
As for the book by FCA’s president, the description for the book, Greatest Coach Ever, says it includes the reflections of over 30 athletes, coaches and other popular sports figures on Wooden’s genius and testimonies of how they have been challenged and changed by his insights.
Contributors to Greatest Coach Ever include retired NFL coach Tony Dungy, retired NBA star David Robinson, retired college football coach Bobby Bowden, pro-baseball star Andy Pettitte, and 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, among others.
The FCA, which Wooden said he “supported … almost from its beginning,” is the largest interdenominational, school-based, Christian sports ministry in America.
Until recent years, Wooden had personally presented the John Wooden Keys to Life Award to an outstanding Christian athlete or coach at the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes/Athletes in Action breakfast during the Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship.
Wooden had also written the forward to FCA’s 2005 devotional book, Heart of a Coach.