The following story about UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was told by our youth pastor during a recent sermon. It was so touching that I asked for a copy. I think it will bring a smile to your face.
There has never been a finer person in American sports than John wooden or a finer coach. He won ten NCAA basketball championships at UCLA, the last in 1975. Nobody has ever come even within six of them. He won 88 straight games, nobody has come within 42 since. There has never been another coach like Wooden. Loyal to one woman, one school, one way, walking around campus in sensible shoes and Jimmy Stewart morals. Discipline yourself and others won't need to, coach would say. Never lie, never cheat, never steal and earn the right to be proud and confident. If you played for him, you played by his rules. Never score without acknowledging your teammate. One word of profanity and you're done for the day. Treat your opponent with respect. He believed in hopelessly out of date stuff but never did anything but win championships. No long hair, no facial hair--it would take too long to dry and you will catch cold leaving the gym, he would say. That one drove his players bonkers! One day, all American center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. "It's my right!", he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly, and Walton said he did. "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. Now Walton calls coach once a week to tell him how much he loves him. Wooden is almost 90 now, but on the 21st of the month, the best man I know will do what he always does on the 21st of the month. He'll sit down and he'll pen a love letter to his best girl. He'll say how much he misses her and loves her and can't wait to see her again. Then he'll fold it once, slide it into a little envelope and walk into his bedroom. He'll go to the stack of love letters sitting there on her pillow, untie the yellow ribbon, place the new one on top and tie the ribbon again. The stack will be 180 letters high then because the 21st will be 15 years to the day since Nelly, his beloved wife of 53 years, died. In her memory, he sleeps only on his half of the bed, only on his pillow, only on top of the sheets, never between, with just the old bedspread they shared to keep him warm. You see, that kind of commitment is the key to lasting love.
And since we're talkin' about love and sports. . .
Here are a few snapshots of the twins lovin' their sports!
May you rejoice this Valentine's week in your lasting love.