John Wooden, UCLA legend, In Grave Condition

04 Jun 2010

Former UCLA basketball coach and Hall of Famer John Wooden has been hospitalized in Los Angeles, the school said late Thursday night.

The athletic department said in an e-mail that Wooden was at UCLA Medical Center, but per the wishes of his family would not comment on his condition.

Television station KCAL in Los Angeles first reported Wooden’s hospitalization, and the Los Angeles Times confirmed it through school sources. Both outlets described his condition as “grave.”

Former Bruins star Bill Walton told the Associated Press from the NBA Finals that he last visited with Wooden two days ago at the hospital.

“He’s the greatest,” Walton said, his voice catching. “We love him.”

Walton also would not comment on his condition.

Wooden, the former UCLA coach and Hall of Famer, has been confined to a wheelchair after a series of minor health setbacks in recent years. He was hospitalized briefly a month ago and spent weeks in the hospital a year ago being treated for pneumonia.

UCLA spokesman Marc Dellins told the AP he spoke to a Wooden family member Thursday evening and the family asked that no other information about Wooden be released.

UCLA Medical Center spokeswoman Roxanne Moster said she couldn’t confirm whether Wooden was there or not because it would be a “violation of medical privacy laws.”

Family members and UCLA staff would not comment to

Wooden led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships — at one time winning seven in a row — during a 27-year run that ended with his team cutting down the nets one last time in 1975.

The Bruins won 88 consecutive games from 1971-74 and 38 consecutive NCAA tournament games from 1964-74, both records.

NBA commissioner David Stern was asked about Wooden’s contributions to the sport of basketball before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

“We decided that we would not declare his obituary now, other than to say that he’s the winningest coach in our history, four 30-0 seasons, and the ultimate aficionado of our game,” Stern said. “We hope he’s in peace right now, and we’ll wait on events.”

Walton and Stern weren’t the only people at the Finals thinking of Wooden.

“My heart goes out to him and his family,” Lakers guard Derek Fisher said after Los Angeles’ win over Boston in Game 1. “He’s meant so much to the game of basketball and to Los Angelenos in particular. I don’t think there’s anyone other than maybe Magic Johnson who can even come close to being as important in the history of basketball here in Southern California as John Wooden.”