Aug. 31, 2005
I was shocked to learn that the Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden, will no longer take part in presenting the award that bears his name. The Wooden Award is a prestigious honor, given to the best college basketball player in America, and it means a lot to so many people.
Wooden had a disagreement with the Los Angeles Athletic Club, which has given out the award for nearly three decades. This special honor will still be called the Wooden Award. I wish the two parties could reach an agreement to resolve this situation, which reportedly came about when the former UCLA coach agreed to lend his name to another unrelated award.
When you think about some of the past winners of the Wooden Award, you understand its importance. Players like Larry Bird and Michael Jordan have received the honor.
Let's face it, Wooden should be allowed to use his name in the way he sees fit.
Besides being a phenomenal coach, John Wooden is a special, special person. They don't come any better than him, my friends. Listen to his wisdom and his philosophy about life beyond basketball. I had an opportunity to share time with him in a recent campaign, and my family and I were in awe listening to the positive things he says about being successful in the game of life.
The 94-year-old Wooden won a record 10 NCAA championships at UCLA (in the span of 12 years). He retired in 1975, the year he won title No. 10.
Let's hope the parties involved can work this out so Wooden will be part of the ceremony again. The national player of the year should enjoy the chance to spend time with the Wizard of Westwood. Let's face it, Wooden should be allowed to use his name in the way he sees fit. He should have a say in the way his name is used, even if it is on another award.
It would be sad if this saga were to continue and he missed out on being part of an award presentation that features one of the most magical names in the history of college basketball.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.