John Wooden

Twenty years ago, I got to meet Wooden at an event for suits. One of the Master-Of-The-Universe types asked Wooden about his greatest accomplishment. Wooden didn’t miss a beat, “I was an Academic All-American at Purdue.”

This CEO puffed himself up and retorted, “But what about all those championships at UCLA?” Wooden quipped, “I didn’t make a single bounce pass or layup — the boys did all that.”

The CEO was now disoriented and looked lost. “I don’t understand, Coach. You were their leader.”

Wooden studied this guy for a minute and quietly asked, “Tell me, sir. Do you have many employees at your company?”

The guy was now back on top. “More than 60,000 and we did about $12 billion in revenue last year!”

Wooden’s eyes twinkled as he asked, “Tell me, how much could you do all by yourself?”

The CEO fell quiet. Wooden had a point to all the outsized egos in the room — you can only win with a team. It was a priceless moment with a timeless man.

Obviously, that’s not me.  It was from an email by James Brown sent to Rick Reilly from  The original is here (near the bottom).


One thought on “John Wooden

  1. Pingback: “You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learnt” « At Home On The Court

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