As John Wooden passed away on June 4, 2010 people are remembering the accomplishments that John Wooden gave to college basketball for twenty-seven seasons. John Wooden was a great coach on the court and a great individual off it. Here are five of the most memorable moments from John Wooden’s career starting from his first national championship in 1964 to his tenth and final national championship in 1975.
John Wooden’s first NCAA championship in 1964
Despite John Wooden’s college basketball dominance, it wasn’t always easy. His first national championship didn’t occur until 1964. Wooden’s Bruins had to sit in the shadows of Bill Russell and Pete Newell teams in the California area before Wooden was able to secure his first title in 1964 with a team that went 30-0. From 1964 through 1975, John Wooden was able to win ten championships, including seven consecutive from 1967 to 1973.
Seven consecutive national championships from 1967 to 1973
Once John Wooden got the monkey off his back, his UCLA Bruins became one of sport’s most unstoppable forces. The UCLA Bruins won ten of twelve championships, including seven championships from 1967 through 1973. His seven national championships are an NCAA record as no other collegiate has ever won more than 4 during their entire career.
88 game winning streak
From 1972 to 1974, the UCLA Bruins posted the biggest winning streak in college history. Led by Bill Walton and John Wooden, the Bruins went 88 straight games without suffering a defeat. That’s over nearly three undefeated seasons! Adolph Rupp and Mike Krzyzewski have won 4 championships and are second in all-time titles throughout their career. Wooden went nearly three seasons undefeated and won more than twice that during his career.
88 game winning streak snapped
On January 19, 1974, the UCLA Bruins 88 game winning streak was ended after a 71-70 defeat to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Following the game, John Wooden refused to let his players speak to the media. Wooden claimed that “Only winners talk.” UCLA was able to reset themselves a week later as they got a rematch against the Fighting Irish. They won by 19 points.
John Wooden’s 10th national championship in 1975
John Wooden’s final national championship came in his final season. After his Bruins defeated the Louisville Cardinals in the 1975 semifinals, Wooden announced his retirement at 65. He coached the championship game against the Kentucky Wildcats, where the Wildcats were favored to win. As usual, the Bruins were able to upset the Wildcats in a 92-85 victory and let John Wooden retire from the NCAA coaching ranks as a champion, putting the finishing touches to the greatest coaching career in college basketball… and possibly sports… history.
Associated Press, “UCLA Legendary Coach John Wooden dies at 99.” ESPN. June 5, 2010. June 5, 2010.