A week ago today, the John R. Wooden Award was given to the best college basketball players of the year. Back in 2001, Coach Wooden (the namesake of the award and former UCLA basketball coach) gave a touching TEDTalk which proved why he is so revered and respected in the basketball and academic communities.
The recipients of the Wooden award, Blake Griffin of Oklahoma and Maya Moore of Connecticut, both led their teams into the NCAA Division I Championship Tournament (with Moore’s Huskies winning the women’s title). Both players regularly put up double-doubles in points and rebounds throughout the season (30 for Griffin, 16 for Moore) and are also the first from their respective universities to win the award.
But winning and filling stat sheets aren’t enough to earn the Wooden trophy, which demands candidates “exhibit strength of character, both on and off the court.” This is something Coach Wooden has in spades.
In his 2001 TEDTalk, Coach Wooden affectionately recalls his early teaching and coaching career to illustrate how he arrived at his own personal definition of success. By sharing his father’s wisdom, quoting poetry and bible verses, Coach Wooden uses his talk to encourage the pursuits of self-improvement and satisfaction. He reminds us all that while “your reputation is what you’re perceived to be, your character is what you really are … ” (Recorded at TED2001, February 2001, in Monterey, California. Duration: 17:36.)
Watch John Wooden’s talk from TED2001 on TED.com, where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 400+ TEDTalks — including more sports.
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