UCLA's basketball program gained the worldwide reputation of being rated number one. The major reason was head basketball coach John Robert Wooden, who announced his retirement in 1975 after his 27th season as the Bruins' head coach with the winningest record in basketball history.
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Wooden concluded his 40th year as a head coach in 1975 with a record of 885 wins, 203 losses, and a winning percentage of .813 which is unequalled. In his 27 years at UCLA, his teams registered 620 wins against only 147 losses.
Under Wooden, UCLA won an unprecedented 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years, including seven in a row. Included in that string is one of the most amazing win streaks in sports, 38 straight NCAA tournament victories.
In addition, there is the all-time NCAA consecutive win-streak record of 88 in a row over four seasons: 15-0 at the close of 1970-71, 30-0 in both 1971-72 and 1972-73, and then 13 in succession in 1973-74 before the string was broken.
"The Wizard of Westwood" is the only coach to compile four undefeated seasons of 30-0 and his teams also captured 16 conference championships (one of the records Coach Wooden is most proud of), all at UCLA.
But the most emotional moment of his career came on the day following the Bruins 1970 NCAA championship victory over Jacksonville University. Coach Wooden received a telephone call from then President Nixon commending the players and coaches for their victory.
Born in Martinsville, Indiana on October 14, 1910, Wooden attended high school there and won All-State prep honors in basketball for three years, leading Martinsville High to the State title in 1927 and the runner-up spot in 1926 and 1928.
At Purdue University, he won letters in basketball and baseball as a freshman, then went on to win All-American honors as a basketball guard in 1930-31-32. He captained Purdue's great teams in 1931 and 1932 and led the team to two Big Ten titles and the 1932 National Collegiate Championship.
As an English major, his name was inscribed on Purdue's academic honor roll, and he was awarded the Big Ten Conference medal for outstanding merit and proficiency in scholarship and athletics for 1932.
Shortly after graduating from Purdue in 1932, he married his charming wife, Nell. He then began his teaching career at Dayton, Kentucky High School where he coached all sports. Two years later, he returned to South Bend Central High School in Indiana, where he coached basketball, baseball and tennis, and also taught English for nine years. His impressive 11 year prep coaching record was 218 wins and only 42 losses.
World War II interrupted his coaching career. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Navy with rank of full lieutenant. Following his discharge in 1946, he went to Indiana State University to become their athletic director and to coach their basketball and baseball teams for two seasons prior to heeding the call from UCLA.
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