New St. John's Boss
Spent 12 Years At UCLA
By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach who built one of the most dominant dynasties in all of sports, died in Los Angeles Friday night at age 99.
Wooden died of natural causes at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center, where he'd been hospitalized for more than a week, according to the school. He died about four months before his 100th birthday.
The mild-mannered Wizard of Westwood guided his Bruins to 10 national championships, including seven in a row from 1967-73.
Wooden was known for sharing short inspirational or philosophical messages, quoted often by Bill Walton and many of his former star players in ESPN and HBO specials dedicated to one of the greatest coaches in all of sports. Perhaps no coach is revered by those he mentored the way Wooden has been since he coached his last game -- a national championship game win, of course -- 35 years ago.
Another former UCLA coach texted OGS this week when it appeared doubtful that Wooden would survive. Steve Lavin, who coached the Bruins from 1996-2003 after serving five years as an assistant there, wrote, "99 years of goodness ... A generous spirit."
And Friday night, 90 minutes after Wooden's death, Lavin, now the coach at St. John's, wrote back that "Even though we naturally anticipate this, the finality of it hits with the force of a ton of bricks."