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COACH WOODEN ONE-ON-ONE
By JOHN WOODEN JAY CART
Copyright © 2003
John Wooden and Jay Carty
All right reserved.
So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.
Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.
Time lost is time lost. It's gone forever. Some people tell themselves that
they will work twice as hard tomorrow to make up for what they did not do
today. People should always do their best. If they can work twice as hard
tomorrow, then they should have also worked twice as hard today. That
would have been their best. Catching up leaves no room for them to do their
best tomorrow. People with the philosophy of putting off and then working
twice as hard cheat themselves.
Most young people don't know how to work hard, and so many are satisfied
with just getting by. I wouldn't settle for this second-best attitude
from my players. I'd ask them, "If you do not have the time to do it right the
first time, when will you find the time to do it over?"
I sought to help my players learn to work hard in three areas of life:
Certainly, I wanted to help them get the most out of themselves physically,
but I also wanted them to learn to work hard mentally and emotionally.
I asked that their studies come first, basketball second and social lives third.
This required them to have discipline. Physical conditioning, of course, was
needed to play basketball, but it also helped them gain control in other
To do a good job on their studies, they needed to develop mental control.
As a result, most of my players graduated. To avoid mistakes and stay
focused, they also needed to have emotional control. Achieving that takes
hard work. Control in all three areas helped my players keep focus in school,
on the court and in life.
If every morning your bank credited your account with $86,400 but every
evening canceled whatever part of the amount you failed to use, what would
you do? Spend every cent-of course!
Well, you have such a bank account-it is called time. Every day it credits
you with 86,400 seconds. At midnight, whatever you failed to use is lost.
A balance is not carried over to the next day and you're not allowed overdrafts.
Each day the bank named Time opens a new account with you. Each
night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits,
the loss is yours.
That is Christian comedian Robert G. Lee's take on time. I like it. It
helps me put value into each day. The apostle Paul also had a take on time.
He wrote to the Christians of a city called Ephesus and suggested that they
make each day a masterpiece. A wise person, he pointed out, will make the
most of his or her time.
To truly make each day a masterpiece, we must first understand the
Lord's will. If we are going to grasp His plan, then we need to know it, so a
good way to start each day is reading the Bible. For greater understanding,
pray about what you read.
You can't have a masterpiece if you spend time on frivolous activities or
outright sin. Paul wrote about the problem of addiction to alcohol, but he
could have added drugs, porn, food and online chatrooms to his list of
detrimental time wasters. How many hours do you spend each day on these
or other unhealthy habits? How could you better use that time?
Finally, Paul urges us to be filled with the Spirit. Having God's power
helps us say no to the bad stuff and yes to God's will. How will you spend
your 86,400 seconds today? How can you make today a masterpiece?
Dear Lord God, I want today to be a masterpiece for You.
I want to bring glory to You every minute of the day.
May it be so.
Today's reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-3; Ephesians 5:15-20
Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to
those who have lived many years.
I try to read something every day. I always read some Scripture. Then I go
to the newspaper. I first turn to the headlines on the front page to look for
anything that's of interest. Then before going to the sports page-which
many think I'd go to first-I look at the crossword puzzle. Later in the day
I will work on that. Then I glance at the bridge hand. There was a time when
I enjoyed playing bridge. I read these sections to keep up-to-date. Then
I turn to the sports page. I skim it before breakfast and then read it
thoroughly after I have eaten.
The newspaper is not the only thing I read. I enjoy new books. I'll read
at least one a month. There was a time when I did a lot more-that is when
I could read faster and could retain better than I can today. Of course, all of
my reading is the printed word-the old-fashioned way, I guess. The Internet
is a nice idea, but it came along too late for me to take much advantage of it.
While I am losing my abilities, and technology has zoomed past me, I'm
not going to get upset. It's the natural, normal way of life. I accept the
reality; nevertheless, I still want to operate to the best of my abilities. I
will continue to do the best I can with what I have. I won't stand still. I will
always try to move forward. I want to keep learning. I want to function as well
as I am capable of functioning. Whatever comes out of that comes out of that.
It will be a by-product of always striving to be the best I can be.
Baseball player Satchel Paige once asked, "How old would you be if you
didn't know how old you was?" Oliver Wendell Holmes put it this way:
"To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than
to be forty years old."
I wholeheartedly agree and my grandkids will attest to that. I would
hate it if there were anything my grandkids wanted to do that I was too
stuffy or old to try. If my body won't let me do a particular feat,
that's one problem; but if my attitude won't let me proceed, that's quite
One of my great joys in life was chasing through the tubes and sliding
down the chutes in a fun house with Anna, my granddaughter. I wasn't the
only adult frolicking about, but I was the oldest and definitely the biggest.
I didn't even mind sliding into the plastic balls and getting completely covered
up. My grandkids think I'm fun. Ride roller coasters at Six Flags? Sure!
Paint each other's faces, do projects with glitter, or color with the mega big
box of Crayolas? You bet! Color outside the lines? Always! I'm definitely an
out-of-the-box-type person. Not in a rebellious way. Not in a sinful way
But life to the fullest is best lived outside the lines. Older people often have
way too many lines. And I'm not talking about the ones they wear on the
In May 2002, at sixty years of age, I contracted a permanently paralyzed
vocal cord. A virus killed it. After 25 years of preaching, it was all over in a
moment. My work had also been my passion and my hobby. I could no
longer do it. It would have been very easy to take the disability checks and
retire. But that is not what Coach taught me. I decided the keep developing.
This book is the result. I plan to continue to be the best I can be, no
matter my circumstances or my age.
Heavenly Father, give me the courage to expand
my boundaries, to learn to glorify God outside the lines
and to pursue becoming all I am capable of becoming
regardless of my age or circumstances. Amen.
Today's reading: Psalms 90:10; 92:14; Proverbs 16:31; Isaiah 46:4;
Exodus 20:12; Psalm 34:12-13; Proverbs 3:1-2; 1 Peter 3:10-11
Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others.
You can never finish paying that. If you love your neighbor,
you will fulfill all the requirements of God's law.
Love" is the greatest word in our language. When we have love, many of our
problems disappear. Differences are manageable when love has its way. I'm
sure my regard for love comes from my reading of the Bible, specifically the
love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, which is my favorite passage. We can give
without loving, but we can't love without giving. In fact, love is nothing
unless we give it to someone.
I like to visit the veteran's hospital and I go to children's hospitals as
well. I've always had a particular love and empathy for children. I have
cherished times when I have been able to hold a newborn in my arms. I especially
remember holding astronaut Sally Ride and Stanford basketball
coach Mike Montgomery when they were babies.
I was pleased when the organizers of the Wooden Classic Basketball
Tournament decided to give a portion of their proceeds to children's hospitals.
Now they have money going to the Special Olympics, and that pleases
me, too. Needs of children have a special appeal to me. Showing love for
these children through these gifts makes me very happy. I know the money
doesn't make all of their problems disappear, but it certainly helps make
their lives better.
My grandchildren amaze me. When Matthew was six he hooked up a DVD
player without any help and was watching a children's program when his
dad got home. Yikes! I still can't program my old VCR.
Anna has always had a way with words. When she was just four, she was
talking about God with her mom. The conversation went something like this:
Anna: Nobody knows what God looks like except Grandpa Robbie.
He sees His face. Do you think He'll have a round face like this?
(Circles her own face with her finger.) With longer legs? Do you
think God can hang upside down and touch the earth? He is
the true God, so He can do anything! Is what I'm saying too
precious so that you might have to cry? He's the true King; He'll
never let us down. He won't fail us. He loves us. He won't even
fail the parents. He loves the grandmas, grandpas, mommies,
daddies, children, brothers and sisters. Even the people who are
eighty. And the people who are gonna die. Right? He loves
everybody. He even likes everybody. He's the one true goodest
King. Do you know why?
Mom (Scrambling for a quick answer about the intrinsic nature of the
goodness of God.): Because He is the creator and He is good. Anything
that is good is good because it is like God.
Anna: That's right big mama! Give me five!
God is love. Anna understands the concept. Coach understands it, too.
But it's not easy to grasp. The Bible is clear: On our own, we can neither love
God nor love people the way God does. But we can experience His love, and
we can get so close to God that He will love others through us.
Coach has a close walk with God, and God loves people through him.
Anna has the faith of a child, and God does the same with her. I can't hook
up a VCR, and God still loves me and allows me to love others!
Is your walk with the Father so close that He regularly loves people
Father, I want to allow You to love my neighbor through me
with the same love that You love me. Amen.
Today's reading: Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; 1 John 4:7-5:3
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans
for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
I haven't had any "God said" events that I can recall, but I have become
aware of God's hand on my life. I can now look back to see that God was at
work, especially in certain circumstances that at the time I thought were
simply strokes of good luck.
In 1944, during World War II, I had orders to board the USS Franklin
in the South Pacific. My orders were canceled due to an emergency surgery. My
appendix ruptured. During an attack, the person who took my place was at
the battle station where I would have been, and he was killed by a kamikaze.
Years later I had to travel from Atlanta to Raleigh for a summer basketball
camp at Campbell College. I usually went on a Saturday, but I couldn't
leave at that time because of a conflict. I had my ticket, but I had to cancel
and book the same flight for the following day. The Saturday flight-the
one I was supposed to be on-crashed and everyone on board was killed.
Flying over the crash site the next day made me consider the spiritual nature
of life. I thought deeply about God and His plans and wondered why He had
One such incident might be considered luck, if a person believed in
luck. But twice to be so overtly delivered from death caused me to pause and
ponder. I could not dismiss it as a mere coincidence. No, it was more likely
God's hand at work in my life than luck. He had plans for me.
With tears in his eyes Coach asked me, "Why does God allow awful things
to happen, especially to children? Why the children?" The answer lies in the
importance of our free will.
I have to admit that theologically it is easier for me to explain why God
rarely intervenes than why He sometimes does. God gave us free will-we get
to make choices that matter-and He rarely violates the consequences of our
I know this does not fully answer the question, but the important point
here is that God doesn't want to intervene, yet there are times when He does.
Why? Perhaps it is because He has plans for us. Yet each of us has a free-will.
How can we have a free will to choose our own way when God has plans for
our lives? I don't pretend to have a clue as to how it all works. It's very
confusing, but that's the way God does it. Isn't that just like Him? He loves
acting in ways that will increase our faith-like making good out of bad.
God doesn't promise to make all bad events good. But He does promise
to make something good come out of a bad situation if we will love and
trust Him. After preaching for twenty-five years, I contracted a paralyzed
vocal cord. I haven't addressed an audience since May 2002.
Excerpted from COACH WOODEN ONE-ON-ONE
by JOHN WOODEN JAY CART
Copyright © 2003 by John Wooden and Jay Carty.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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