in conversation with Bill Walton
Coach Wooden and Me:
Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court
Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre
New Roads School
Herb Alpert Educational Village
3131 Olympic Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Video will be posted a week after event
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 50 years of friendship with Coach John Wooden — brought together by the game of basketball — formed one of the most enduring and meaningful relationships in sports history.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Since retiring, he has been an actor, a basketball coach, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers. Abdul-Jabbar is also a columnist for Time magazine, writing on a wide range of subjects including race, politics, age, and pop culture, and his essays and columns have also appeared in the Washington Post, in the Los Angeles Times and on Esquire.com, among other publications. In 2012, he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador and in 2016 Abdul-Jabbar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award which recognizes exceptional meritorious service.
In 1965, 18-year old Lew Alcindor, who would later change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, left New York City to play basketball for Coach John Wooden at UCLA. It was the beginning of what was to become a 50-year long relationship that ended with Kareem sitting at his 99-year old coach’s bedside on a June evening in 2010, holding his hand, just before he died. This is the story of their enduring friendship, both on and off the court.
On the court, Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three national champions, and was named the Outstanding Player in the NCAA for each of those years-a feat that has yet to be matched in college basketball. Wooden coached UCLA for 27 seasons and won more NCAA championships than any other coach in history.
Off the court, they transcended their athletic achievements to gain even wider recognition and tremendous national respect. They came together at the height of the civil rights era, and Coach Wooden made sure that every player on his team got the same opportunity and was treated equally. Even when Kareem controversially adopted the Muslim faith, and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wooden was there to support him.
Abdul-Jabbar will intimately reveal the lessons Coach Wooden taught from putting your socks on right, to the philosophies in his famous “Pyramid of Success”, and how they shaped his life, and more generally take you back to the basics of what a coach should be.
Part memoir, and part inspirational, Coach Wooden and Me is filled with untold stories about the famous pair; private correspondence; exclusive interviews with other teammates and coaches, friends, and even family, on Coach Wooden’s impact; and much more.
Bill Walton was NCAA player of the year at UCLA from 1972 to 1974, when UCLA set an NCAA record eighty-eight consecutive-game winning streak. A former NBA Champion and MVP, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and selected as one of the NBA’s Fifty Greatest Players ever. He has also had a successful award-winning broadcasting career with ABC, ESPN, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, Turner, and Fox, among others. He currently resides in his hometown of San Diego with his family. Visit his website.
*Interviewer subject to change in the event of television assignment.