Thursday, January 17, 2008

97-Year Old Rejects Public's Affection, Also Wants You to Get Off His Lawn

Who the heck does John Wooden think he is? The LA Times reports today that UCLA officials have told fans they may no longer ask for the legendary coach's autograph at Pauley Pavilion. Apparently, he would prefer to watch the game uninterrupted, rather than address his line of 10-15 fans which runs continuously through games.

Before Wednesday's weekly media session began, spokesman Marc Dellins asked that the word be put out that fans won't be allowed to continuously walk up to the former coach during games and ask for autographs and that Wooden will no longer sign autographs during games at Pauley.

Wooden always finds it difficult to turn down requests and although most fans are pleasant and patient, it is not uncommon to see a line of 10 or 15 lined up in the narrow aisle at Pauley waiting for an autograph.

Dellins said the request came from Wooden's family. "He's coming to watch the game and enjoy the game," Dellins said.

It seems to me that if Wooden wanted to watch a UCLA basketball game interrupted, he should have stayed on as head coach, where no one could bother him. He made the choice to retire in 1975 (right before his tenth and final NCAA championship), and now, 33 years later, he's paying the consequences. What, we're supposed to respect your wishes just because you're the greatest college basketball coach in the history of the sport, a UCLA legend, and a wonderful man and role model? Come on.

I suppose, alongside his quotes of "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" and "Intensity makes you stronger; emotionalism makes you weaker", we can add "Don't bother me during a basketball game (unless you're bringing me a churro and a coke)".

photo: Lori Shepler/LAT