Henry Bibby Remembers “His Father”

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man given. Be grateful. Conceit is self given. Be careful. John Robert Wooden (1910-2010)

John Robert Wooden was a man who came from humble beginnings never forgetting, in his 99 years on this Earth, where he came from.

Wooden was taught humility by his father, Joshua, who he called the wisest man he’s ever known. In turn, he passed his father’s wisdom on to the two children he and his beloved wife and true love, Nell, had together.

That wisdom was passed down to seven grand-children and 13 great grand-children.

But, it didn’t stop there.

Wooden passed what his father taught him down to the hundreds of student-athletes he coached from Dayton High School in Kentucky, to South Bend Central High School in Indiana, to Indiana State University, to UCLA.

How fortunate they all are.

Friend. Caring. Honest. Grateful. The most humble person you‘ll ever know. Father figure. The best coach.

That’s how former UCLA point guard Henry Bibby described Wooden just a few hours before the legendary Bruins coach passed away from natural causes. Wooden had been at Ronald Reagan Medical Center at UCLA in grave condition for 10 days.

I saw him last weekend. Bibby said. He said to me, ‘Henry, I love you.’ I told him, I love you too, coach.

From 1970 to 1972, Bibby honed basketball skills Wooden taught as the starting point guard for three of UCLA’s 10 National Championship teams under Wooden.

Coach was always so humble. With all our success, he never took the credit. For him it was all about the players who were part of the team.

And like all of Coach Wooden’s players, he learned more than basketball skills, Bibby learned life skills.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re honest with others. Treat people the same and live by your word.

A native of North Carolina, Bibby was being recruited by Norm Sloan at North Carolina State and UCLA. Wooden paid him a recruiting visit along with Kenny Washington, a guard on the Bruins first two National Champions under Coach Wooden.

Of course, the rest is Bruins history and the beginning of an incredible relationship for Bibby.

From learning the proper way of putting on socks and lacing sneakers to avoid blisters, to absorbing philosophies like failing to prepare is preparing to fail or be quick, but don’t hurry to learning a Pyramid of Success for life on and off the court, Bibby learned well.

He educated me and continued to be ’my father’ throughout my entire career.

Bibby went on to have a successful nine-year career in the NBA playing for four different teams including winning a World Championship in his rookie season with the New York Knickerbockers.*

All the while, almost daily conversations with Coach Wooden for advice.

After his playing days were over, Bibby began a successful head coaching career in the Continental Basketball Association culminating with nine years at the University of Southern California, UCLA’s arch and cross-town rival. Bibby led the Trojans to three tournament appearances including an Elite Eight appearance in 2001.

All the while, almost daily conversations with Coach Wooden for advice.

Upon his hiring by USC in 1996, Bibby recalled a conversation he had with Coach Wooden.

I told him I’d have a limo pick him up at his house and drive him to and from the Sports Arena if he would come to some games. He laughed and said, ‘Henry, You WON’T get me to a USC game.’

Bibby’s coached the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and has been an assistant coach for a number of NBA teams including his current position with Lionel Hollins and the Memphis Grizzlies.

All the while, almost daily conversations with Coach Wooden for advice.

Often sharing the lessons Coach Wooden taught him as a teenager way back in the 70s to players he’s coached through the years, Bibby said simply,

I owe my entire career to coach Wooden. I’m so grateful to have him in my life. He‘ll always be with me.

Coach Wooden will be with all of us, always. For proof, seek out his players or read the words of a current UCLA student whose parents probably never saw Wooden coach.

Wooden was a coach to all of us. He just used basketball as his vehicle to teach us.

*Bibby’s one of only four players to win an NCAA Title and NBA Title in back-to-back years. The other three are Bill Russell, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Billy Thompson.

Protest All You Want. But, Understand Those References.

courtesy: L.A. Times

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even discuss politics and sports together. But, when the two are combined, shoved in your face, slandering the greatest country on Earth in the process, I can’t help but discuss the issues surrounding their collision.

Stems from Senate Bill 1070 passed by the Arizona Legislature earlier this month. The intent, as it is written in the bill itself, is to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.

The Bill itself is a Federal one and has been in existence since the days of FDR. The Bill is administered, among other instances, when you are stopped for a traffic violation and the police officer requests you provide your license, registration and proof of insurance.

The Bill is in place to protect American Citizens and Foreign Citizens of ALL Nationalities who are in the United States LEGALLY.

Here’s where the passing of SB 1070 by the Arizona Legislature intersected with sports.

The Phoenix Suns wore alternate “Los Suns” jerseys for game two of their western conference semi-final series against the San Antonio Spurs, which happened to fall on Cinco de Mayo. According to Suns owner Ron Sarver, his team donned those jerseys in protest of the Bill to, in his words,

Honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation.

No problem with that whatsoever.

Later, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson was asked about the Suns’ manner of protesting the Bill. Jackson responded by saying:

Am I crazy, or am I the only one that heard when the legislators said that `we just took United States immigration law and adapted it to our state?’

The same reporter followed up his comment by saying that Arizona had “usurped the federal law.” Jackson replied with:

It’s not usurping, they just copied it, is what they said they did, the legislators. Then they give it some teeth to be able to enforce it.

Nowhere did he say he agreed with Arizona’s legislation.  However, coach Jackson’s statements didn’t make the Mexican American Political Association and Southern California Immigration Coalition very happy prompting Nativo Lopez, the president of these groups, to say:

We are not happy with the position that Phil Jackson took. We want to call on Jackson and the Lakers to put on their Los Lakers jerseys, especially considering the tremendous support that the Lakers have enjoyed from the communities specifically targeted by the misguided and racist Arizona law.

Nothing wrong with Lopez’ statement and request after Jackson’s comments and in protest of SB 1070.

The L.A. City Council voted 13-1 to boycott Arizona products citing that Arizona’s Immigration Law is reminiscent of what the NAZIS did in Europe during the 1930s and 40s. Understand California’s Immigration Law is more stringent than Arizona’s.

In a statement prior to Monday‘s Lakers playoff game against the Suns, Coach Jackson said he wasn’t choosing sides in the matter and applauded the right of all peaceful groups to protest.

Move to Monday’s NBA Western Conference Finals opener in Los Angeles between Jackson’s Lakers and Sarver’s Suns. A protest was staged against SB 1070 and Jackson outside Staples Center with some protesters waving inverted American Flags with Swastikas on them. Previous protests against SB 1070 also accused the members of Arizona’s Legislators of being NAZIS because they passed the Bill.

Comparing the Arizona Legislature’s passing of SB 1070 to NAZI Germany IS A PROBLEM. To do this is OUT OF LINE.

Understanding the inhumanities the NAZIS orchestrated in Europe during the middle of the 20th Century and comparing those NAZI inhumanities to a Federal Bill designed to PROTECT LEGAL CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY, BE IT FOREIGNERS OR AMERICANS, is IGNORANT, INSULTING TO THOSE WHO SUFFERED NAZI ATROCITIES and DEMEANS THOSE ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE NAZIS.

I challenge all those who have the audacity to make such a comparison to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and experience NAZI atrocities through its collection of photographic and material evidence.

Maybe then they will understand the comparison IS out of line. Here’s a head start.

Between 1933-45, NAZI Germany illegally invaded every Continental European Country in Adolf  Hitler‘s quest to rule the world.

In the process, Hitler illegally revoked every Jews citizenship, stealing their possessions and right to live. Six-million Jews and those that “collaborated” with them (some five-million non-Jews including Christians and Catholics) were all part of his Final Solution to systematically exterminate the Jewish Race from existence. Those 11-million humans were MURDERED.

Among the atrocities to innocent men, women and children, Jews and their “collaborators” were executed by firing squads who shot them in the back after forcing them to dig their own graves. They were asphyxiated in trucks minus ventilation breathing in the exhaust from pipes in the truck. They were herded in cattle-cars to concentration camps where they were enslaved and experimented on in horrible ways which included being submerged in freezing water to determine how long it took to die in such conditions. Unmentionable surgical procedures were performed without anesthetics. Unspeakable torture was performed until death resulted.

Their skin was used to construct lamp-shades. Their flesh used to make soap and candle-wax. Their hair used to make pillows. Their teeth extracted to profit from gold fillings. Their possessions sold.

And the Final Solution, some were sent into Gas Chambers disguised as showers for mass extermination with their lifeless corpses cremated in ovens to “get rid of any evidence of wrong-doing.”

Entire families were wiped off the face of the Earth.

So, these questions have to be asked of those who’ve made the out of line comparison between the Atrocities of NAZI Germany and the Arizona Legislature‘s passing of SB 1070.

Where does SB 1070 read Legal Citizens will be stripped of that legal citizenship? Where does it say Illegal Persons will be herded, enslaved and experimented on in horrific ways resulting in certain death? Where does it say those Illegal Persons spared of those horrors will be gassed in chambers disguised as showers until they are dead and then, to get rid of any evidence of wrong-doing, cremated in ovens the size of apartment complexes? Where in SB 1070 does it read the intent of this Bill is to perform Genocide on a race of people?


Those groups frustrated, angry and in disagreement by the passing of a Bill designed to protect, in a legal, peaceful and humane manner, the LEGAL, TAX-PAYING CITIZENS of its States and Country against ILLEGALS who come here to manipulate the system, have every right to do so.

That’s what makes the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. That’s why people from all over legally, and SOME ILLEGALLY, ENTER THIS COUNTRY. America provides them Freedoms they don’t have in their country of origin.

But to protest disagreements by waving inverted American Flags adorned with Swastikas and to compare Arizona’s Immigration Law to NAZI IDEALS is way off base and, honestly, those protesting in this manner should be escorted out of this country never allowed to return.

They should try that in their country of origin. Odds are they’d get thrown in jail.

U.S. Citizens in the Latino Community, go right ahead and protest all you want. That’s your constitutional right as legal residents in this country.

L.A. City Council Members, go ahead and vote to boycott Arizona products because they passed an immigration bill you believe to be unconstitutional even though it‘s been Federal Law for decades. That’s your constitutional right.

So, in defending your constitutional rights, PLEASE be mindful of comparisons used to make your point in protest because your ignorance and lack of knowledge of events, such as the NAZI ATROCITIES, you used only works to damage your credibility and that of your cause.

Remember, knowledge is power. Ignorance is just what it is.

And how about leaving ignorant and intelligent protests out of sports (especially the ignorant ones)  unless they’re about sports.

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