According to the International Basketball Federation, basketball is the world’s second-most popular sport, with an estimated 450 million followers in countries around the globe. In the US, the annual NCAA tournament in March often brings mention of legendary coach John Wooden. During his 27 years at UCLA, Wooden’s teams won an unprecedented 10 National Championship titles. Yet, today, John Wooden, who died in 2010, is remembered not just for what he accomplished but for the person he was.
Wooden lived out his Christian faith and his genuine concern for others in an environment often obsessed with winning. In his autobiography, They Call Me Coach, he wrote, “I always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere.”
John Wooden honored God in all he did, and his example challenges us to do the same. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).