Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

John Wooden

I played for John Wooden at UCLA, where he won more NCAA basketball championships than any other college coach in history. Doing the right thing was the only way that Coach knew how to act. For me, one story clearly illustrates that. In 1947, he was the basketball coach at Indiana State when the team was invited to the NAIA tournament in Kansas City, Mo. But there was one condition: he was told that he could not take Clarence Walker, an African American player. Coach thanked the organizers for the invitation, but he told them he had to take his whole team or he wouldn't participate. The following year, Indiana State had an even better season and received the same invitation. This time, the tourney promoter gave in. It never became widely known that Coach had confronted segregation, and he never tried to claim any credit for his principled stand: he knew it was the right thing to do, and that was enough for him.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer and the executive producer of the upcoming documentary film On the Shoulders of Giants