Known more for his 10 national championships than his sagacious advice, Wooden left behind thoughtful maxims to live by and words of wisdom that expressed what is worth living for.
As a tribute to a man whose intellectual and emotional impact transcends the basketball court, here are some of Wooden's favorite personal tenets, which will endure even longer than his contributions and achievements in college basketball.
The Seven-Point Creed
1. Be true to yourself. If you are true to yourself you will be true to all others.
2. Help others. One's greatest joy comes from doing for something else when there is nothing expected in return.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Make friendship a fine art.
5. Drink deeply from good books.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Give thanks for your blessings and ask for guidance everyday.
His Thoughts on Officials
"An official made a call against us that I thought was terrible, so when he came running by our bench down the floor, I yelled, 'That was a horrible call, Lou.' He responded, 'They liked it at the other end!' You can't be upset at that. If more officials took that attitude, there would be less confrontations."
"I Never Stressed Winning"
"The journey is better than the end. I call practice the journey and the game the end. I really loved practices. The only thing I have missed since retirement are practices, not the games or tournaments. That's where you establish real rapport that will be there long after you're gone."
What Is It Like to Win 10 National Championships?
"You helped, yes, but it's primarily the players. No coach ever did very well unless he had the talent to win with. No one wins without it. One thing I'm very proud of is I've heard that other coaches say I haven't changed from when we won our first championship to when we won our 10th, and I hope that is true."
What He Believes His Coaching Strengths Were
"Practice organization. Getting things done in practice without a waste of time and sticking to a schedule. I was able to ascertain from the squad who would work and make the best team. Very seldom do the best players make the best team. I had to be concerned in the total product and not just the individual. It was my job to utilize every player's talent for the welfare of the team, and I believe that was one of my strengths."
What He Believes His Coaching Weaknesses Were
"I wasn't much of a strategist. I didn't make a lot of changes, and I probably should have made more at times. Earlier in my career, I had a lack of patience. I expected too much too soon. We didn't have a decent place to practice or play for my first 17 years at UCLA, and prior to getting Pauley Pavilion, I let that bother me. That adversely affected the things over which I had control. We won our first two national championships with those same conditions, with a lot of interruptions along the side by other sports, and we would have to travel some places to play home games practically on USC's campus. But I overcame that, and we won our first two national championships in those conditions."
The Most Important Word in the English Language
"Love. If everyone had that to the degree in which they should have, our problems would not be as unmanageable. We would still have problems, but they would be much more manageable. We must remember, too, that love is lasting. It's enduring. Passion is enduring, but love, true love, is enduring."
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."
"Never mistake activity for achievement."
"Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then."
"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
"Be prepared and be honest."
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."
"What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player."
"Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character."
"A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."
"I'd rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent."
"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes."
"It isn't what you do, but how you do it."
"Ability is a poor man's wealth."
"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."
"Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights."
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."
"It's not so important who starts the game but who finishes it."
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."
"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."
"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
"The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."
"Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
"Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."