If there is one person above reproach, one saint whose reputation remains unspoiled in American sports, it might be John Wooden. Indeed, earlier this year Kareem Abdul-Jabbar--not one to dole out unearned praise--penned a book about his friendship with the Wizard of Westwood.
When I pitched Slate the idea of running a story that challenged a piece of the John Wooden mythology, I felt a sense of trepidation. When they agreed to run it, I felt it even more. I still remember the day the piece was published. I'm not usually one for superstition, but I seriously considered skipping my noon basketball game, sure that a twisted ankle (or worse) might await me on the court for daring to transgress the great Wooden.
In truth, though, my article was not so much a shot at Wooden (a man for whom I still have a great deal of respect and admiration), but rather a bit of historical detective and contextualizing work. The piece did not quite match up with the tone of the headline (chosen by Slate's editors), which deemed Wooden's story about his seven point creed "total hogwash." In short, if you are a John Wooden fan, as I am, rest assured that Wooden's legacy can withstand a little bit of demythologizing.
If you want to read the article for yourself, here it is: "John Wooden’s Homespun Creed Was Not So Homespun." And if you want to see the original source from which John Wooden's father derived what eventually became the "Seven Point Creed," see below.