- Created on Sunday, 14 October 2012 13:41
- Written by Imperial Valley News
Los Angeles, California - UCLA will unveil a statue of legendary men's basketball coach John Wooden on the North Plaza outside the new Pauley Pavilion on Friday, October 26, at 2:30 p.m. (PDT). Several members of the Wooden family, as well as members of the Pauley family, will be on hand for the unveiling.
The bronze statue was made possible by a generous donation from longtime UCLA Athletics benefactors Jim and Carol Collins. It was designed and sculpted by Blair Buswell of Pleasant Grove, Utah, who has created many pieces depicting famous sports figures.
"The statue is a monument to a man who touched countless lives and showed us what it means to lead with integrity, humility, compassion and commitment," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. "The legacy of the late Coach Wooden transcends athletics, our campus and the local community. I speak for many when I say with pride that his image will forever grace the main entrance to Pauley Pavilion."
Wooden's UCLA teams won a remarkable seven consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships between 1967 and 1973, and 10 titles in his final 12 seasons as head coach (1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975).
Wooden retired from coaching following the 1975 season with a UCLA record of 620 wins and 147 losses. Only twice during his tenure did the Bruins lose home games at Pauley Pavilion, where he coached from the 1965–66 through 1974–75 seasons.
"All of us at UCLA certainly feel an incredible debt of gratitude to Coach Wooden for his extraordinary contributions to our athletic program and university as a whole," said UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. "It is extremely fitting to commemorate Coach's legacy with an iconic statue that will serve as the main gathering place for generations of Bruin fans and welcome all visitors to 'The House that Wooden Built.'"
"UCLA is a very special place for all of us in the Wooden family and meant so much to our father," said Wooden's children, Jim and Nan Wooden. "To see him honored this way is overwhelming for all of us, and we are grateful to UCLA for this extraordinary tribute to his legacy."
Blair Buswell has sculpted more than 68 busts of inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 1983, as well as statues of several prominent athletes and coaches, including Jack Nicklaus, Oscar Robertson, Doak Walker and Paul "Bear" Bryant.
The sculpture's unveiling will lead into "Welcome Back Pauley Week," which runs from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4. The week features a variety of events for UCLA fans, alumni, students, faculty and staff, as well as the generous donors who helped fund the $136 million revitalization of the storied arena, closed for renovations since March 2011.
The week is an eclectic mix of activities befitting a facility that has been home court to 39 NCAA championship teams in basketball, volleyball and gymnastics; welcomed the world during the 1984 Olympic Games; hosted renowned entertainers in concert; and staged commencement ceremonies and countless other events for UCLA students.
In addition to the events of "Welcome Back Pauley Week," the UCLA Athletic Department will host "Pauley Opening Weekend," a series of memorable ceremonies and events around the building's first two sporting events — the men's basketball game against Indiana State on Friday, Nov. 9, and the women's basketball contest against San Diego State the following day. Details of those ceremonies will be announced as that weekend approaches.
Wooden passed away on June 4, 2010, at the age of 99. On Dec. 20, 2003, the basketball floor in Pauley Pavilion was dedicated as the Nell and John Wooden Court.