John Wooden’s death last week came just four months shy of his 100th birthday. The legendary UCLA basketball coach, affectionately nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood” for his record setting 10 championships, had been officially retired for 35 years. Remarkably, he remained active into his late 90s, regularly attracting huge crowds wherever and whenever he showed up.
But why? What was his allure? Why did he remain so popular? In an age and culture that is so quickly and easily drawn to the cool and hip, what was it about John Robert Wooden, someone clearly not cool and hip, that remained so attractive and tantalizing to audiences all over the country?