In last week's Play Ball column, my colleague Collin Hansen wrote about the "agony of defeat" in the NCAA men's basketball tournamentand in life and our journey of faith.
I thought about Collin's words as I watched UCLA get chomped by Florida's Gators, 73-57, in Monday night's championship game. Afterward, all cameras were on the winners, a joyous blur of orange and blue mayhem.
But what of the Bruins? How were they handling it? CBS cut away from the celebration to the requisite Losing Coach Interview, where UCLA's Ben Howland was gracious, lauding Florida's excellent play rather than making excuses for his team's loss.
And then Howland looked directly into the camera and sent warm greetings to John Wooden, the legendary UCLA coach who watched Monday's game from a hospital bed. (Wooden was treated for diverticulitis and was to be released yesterday.)
I don't know what Howland told his team after the game. Certainly he praised them for a terrific season. But I also wondered what Wooden, now 95, might have said to his players.
Wooden is not only the best coach in college basketball history, winning ten championships, including seven straight, in 27 years at UCLA. He is also the ultimate gentleman. Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, who can be quite the cynic, calls Wooden "the best man I know."
He was known as "The Wizard of Westwood," and Wooden was indeed a fount of wisdoma veritable quote machine. So, in wondering what he might have said to a team that had just been trounced, I simply googled "John Wooden quotes"and got plenty to choose from. Take your pick of these Wooden-isms:
"Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."
"Sports do not build character. They reveal it."
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