June 4th marked the first anniversary of Coach John Wooden’s passing, but he will never be dead. In today’s society of self promotion, John Wooden will talk to generations to come long after he spoke his last word. When you live the life he did, others become your lungs after you’ve taken your last breath.
The newest resuscitation of Coach Wooden’s legacy is “The Wooden Effect”, a documentary with a different angle than any previous film on coach. The piece, by Point Forward Productions, explores Wooden’s impact on race relations at UCLA and beyond. It centers around the Clarence Walker story, an African-American player on Wooden’s Indiana State team who wasn’t allowed to participate in the NCAA tournament because of his race. With the grace and courage, few of that day exhibited, Coach Wooden took a stand to not let his team participate since Walker was prohibited (you have to watch the film to find out more).
As I stood and watched this film, surrounded by great players (and men) such as Marques Johnson, Ed O’Bannon, Tyus Edney and Jamaal Wilkes, I started to think of my own “Wooden Effect”. It is something that is extremely hard to put into words. There is no way to accurately describe the feeling of brotherhood, that day (and any other day), when I saw former teammates Earl Watson, Todd Ramasar, Ryan Bailey, Ray Young and Josiah Johnson. I can’t explain how, despite never playing with Kris Johnson or Toby Bailey, we are apart of the same team.
There were no national championship banners hanging at the event; no retired jerseys adorned the stage. There were no autograph seekers or entourages to remind the, former and current, NBA players of their stardom. There was just family, Coach Wooden’s birth family and the one he created. There was a feeling. A feeling of unity. It is unspoken, unwritten and unscientific. It is unrelenting, unselfish and undeniable. It is…”The Wooden Effect”