Coach John Wooden Honored at L.A. Coliseum Ceremony
By Bruin Basketball Report
UCLA Coach John R. Wooden on Tuesday was inducted into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum's Court of Honor.
Wooden, making his first public appearance since he was hospitalized earlier this year, is the first basketball figure ever bestowed the honor.
Though the 97-year-old Wooden arrived in a wheelchair, he was in good humor. "You think I'll be able to fly out of here when I leave?" Wooden joked, referring to all the praise directed his way.
Ben Howland, Dan Guerrero, Chancellor Gene Block, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were among local dignitaries and former UCLA players at the ceremony. Legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully was also present.
Scully called Wooden "a genius in his ability to inspire." Abdul-Jabbar summed up the feelings of those present to honor Wooden: "We love you, Coach."
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said, "Of everyone at UCLA, John Wooden's name is the best known nationwide. He produced not just good players but good people."
Wooden said he was honored that his plaque was being added alongside Scully's and those of athletes who starred in the Coliseum and adjacent Sports Arena. "I can't understand why a basketball guy would be here ... [but] that's fine."
Coliseum Commission president David Israel called it appropriate that Wooden became the first 'basketball guy" in the Court of honor. "He's John Wooden," Israel said. "USC's baseketball team played here from 1959 to '06, but there wasn't an SC basketball coach we would consider."
UCLA played at the Sports Arena from 1959 until 1965 then moved to Pauley Pavilion.
(photo credit: AP)
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