The Wiz


A guy around the St. Croix Valley sports a zip-up UCLA sweatshirt, or hoodie, if you’re part of the younger generation. He claims it belonged to Bill Walton, a former UCLA player who measured six feet, eleven inches during his basketball days. Given their size difference, Mr. Walton must have worn the hoodie in middle school. The local UCLA imposter says he wears it in homage to a guy named John Wooden.

Mr. Wooden was a legendary basketball coach at UCLA from 1949-75. He guided the Bruins to ten national championships over a twelve-year period, including seven straight (1966-67 season to 1972-73). He earned a nickname, Wizard of Westwood, from the Westwood neighborhood near ULCA’s campus in Los Angles.

Wooden is also known for short, common sense messages to players he later transformed into his Pyramid of Success. The messages had as much application off the basketball court as they did on it. Wooden adapted his Pyramid to the corporate world, and when he left coaching, he was in high demand as a business speaker.

Like any pyramid, Wooden’s starts with a strong foundation. He used industriousness, friendship, cooperation, loyalty, and enthusiasm as his base. No truer building blocks were ever fabricated. Faith and patience run up and down the pyramid. The top of Wooden’s pyramid is what he called competitive greatness – “having a real love for the hard battle knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required.” Successful business owners need not be great athletes to appreciate that quip.

Wooden found greatness in coaching basketball, but his Pyramid of Success endures with even greater lessons. Mr. Wooden passed in 2010, but there’s still a website at where more can be learned.

Coach Wooden, still the Wiz.