One for the record books

John Wooden on his 96th birthday.I'm not much of a basketball fan. In fact, I'm not really a big sports fan at all. I enjoyed watching a variety of sports when the girls were in school: soccer, swimming, track, volleyball, cross country. But if I don't have a child ... or soon, a grandchild ... on a team, it's unlikely you'll find me sitting in the stands.

I have attended a few professional sporting events, thanks mostly to free tickets I used to get from my former employer. And I do enjoy going to baseball games with friends and family now and then. But watching sports is not something I do often, from either the stands or from my couch when there's a game on television.

The sport I'm least likely to watch, other than golf or NASCAR, is basketball. Yes, basketball is exciting and all, but the darn squeaking of the shoes on the court drives me absolutely batty for some reason, and I can concentrate on nothing but that grating noise while watching the game. (Note to Megan and Preston: I promise to overcome such nonsense when Bubby starts playing basketball; I will watch his games any time, anywhere, regardless of how much shoe squeaking goes on!)

But -- and as Pee-Wee Herman once noted, "everyone I know has a big but" -- by not being a basketball fan, I think I've missed out on familiarizing myself with what seems to have been a truly great man.

John Wooden, one of the most successful coaches ever, winning 10 national titles in 12 years for UCLA, died last week at the age of 99. Yeah, I saw the news reports and didn't really think too much about it. He was old, he lived a long life, sounds like he accomplished a lot during his 99 years.

Then yesterday I received my daily Shelf Awareness newsletter about the book industry, and it included a tribute of sorts to Coach Wooden. Seems Wooden not only rallied his teams to success, he was a rather successful writer, having written several books selling millions of copies. And although I don't care a whole heckuva lot about basketball, I do love quotes, and the Shelf Awareness newsletter included some of Wooden's most oft-quoted aphorisms:

"It isn't what you do, but how you do it."

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

"Be quick but don't hurry."

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

"Listen if you want to be heard."

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

That is one smart man, one brilliant man, one thoughtful, caring, wise man. And now I regret having never watched such a man in action.

According to Shelf Awareness, a book commemorating Wooden's life was scheduled to publish in October in honor of his 100th birthday. Titled The Wisdom of Wooden: A Century of Family, Faith, and Friends, written with Steve Jamison, Wooden did have the opportunity to proof and approve of the final product. Upon his death, the publication date has been moved up to July.

So in July, despite my general disdain of the squeaky game called basketball, I will be buying a book about a basketball coach, a book about a remarkably wise man.

And starting today, I will try to do something daily for someone who will never be able to repay me.

Today's question:

What's your favorite sport to watch?

My answer: Like I said, I don't watch a lot of sports, but when I do, hockey is my favorite.