As a basketball coach, he is legendary. Anybody that knows anything about the sport and it’s history knows John Wooden and the unmatched success he had with his UCLA basketball teams. It is very unlikely for a college basketball team to win back to back national championships; Wooden’s teams won seven in a row from 1969-1975. I sincerely believe his character and work ethic had a lot to do with his success. He believed in the simple fundamentals of the game, never allowing his players to dribble between their legs or behind their back and taught them to always acknowledge the teammate who assisted them in scoring a basket. That’s quite a difference from today’s jersey stretching, chest thumping players who secretly desire to make the Sports Center highlights as often as they can. Wooden loved his players and they loved him back, calling him on a regular basis after their careers were over. And although he had some exceptional players on his teams, he loved and treated them all the same. They later shared some of the simple life lessons he taught them, things such as, “discipline yourself, and others won’t need to”, “Never lie, never cheat, never steal” and “earn the right to be confident.” He also didn’t allow his players to have facial hair and one year, hall of fame player, Bill Walton, showed up for the first practice of the season sporting a full beard. When Wooden confronted him about it, Walton kept insisting it was his right. Wooden replied: "That's good, Bill, I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We're going to miss you." Walton shaved it right then and there. After his career was over, Walton called him once a week just to tell Coach Wooden he loved him.
There is much to love about this man but the thing that touched my heart the most about him was his nightly ritual every 21’st day of the month starting in 1985. He wrote a love letter to his deceased wife for over twenty years and only stopped because he could no longer see. After writing it, he would fold it, put it in an envelope and stack it on top of the previous one on top of her pillow. That is what I call love, devotion, and faith! He said he was not at all afraid to die, adding “Death is my only chance to be with Nellie again.”
How would you like to be loved liked that and have someone write a monthly love letter to you after you have left this world? The truth is that you are loved even more than that. In fact, there is One whose love letters to you can be read on a daily basis, namely, the Bible. Here is just one line, spoken by Jesus, from one of His many letters, and is the :
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
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