Wooden was more than a great coach

Published 9:14 am Saturday, June 12, 2010

If ever there was a time for one of my multi-topic Rand and Rave columns, it is this week.

First and foremost I must take a moment and recognize the death of one of the greatest basketball coaches to ever live.

Former UCLA head coach John Wooden passed away last Friday night at the age of 99. Wooden is undoubtedly one the most successful college coaches ever having guided the Bruins to 10 National Championships.

While his success as a coach is beyond reproach, his most impressive legacy may be that of a mentor, father figure and friend. I have been amazed by the numerous accounts of former players and fellow coaches who have taken the last week to tell stories not just of a brilliant coach, but of a wonderful person.

Wooden will be forever remembered not just as a man that built a dynasty, but as the epitome of what a college coach should be.

Speaking of basketball, the NBA appears to have finally delivered a playoff matchup that may be worth watching. While the first round and conference championship matchups turned out to be a bore, the NBA Finals have provided must see TV.

OK, maybe “must see TV” is an exaggeration, but for a league that has grown less dynamic every year for the last decade it seems they may have actually delivered a matchup with both a storied history and an equally intriguing present.

Regardless of whether you like either team, a Boston and Los Angeles contest is guaranteed to entertain. Let’s be honest, that’s more than the NBA normally does.

While I realize that this country and particularly this region does not possess an overwhelming interest in soccer I can only hope that you sports fans will take an opportunity over the next few weeks to watch the World Cup.

The World Cup is a huge event followed around the globe and for the first time ever Team USA is fielding a team that is expected to advance past the first round, We are considered by most experts a top 15 squad and I for one expect us to live up to the hype.

Our roster is deep up front and should have no problem introducing the ball to the back of the net.

Another advantage to this year’s roster is their international experience. Many of these men have been playing not here in the MLS but for the “big boys” in Europe against the best payers in the world.

Our best hope at shocking the world lies in the long arms and glue-like hands of goalkeeper Tim Howard. Howard is believed by some to be the best keeper in the world and if we are to advance into the second round he will have to play to his potential.

Either way, over the next few weeks the World Cup will showcase the best soccer talent on the planet. I hope you take an hour or two and allow yourself to experience what most of the world considers to be the greatest sport and event in the world.

Go Yanks! Ole Ole Ole Ole…..

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.