One of the many perks of being a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s was covering a game at Pauley Pavilion (and still is).
The coolest part was looking across the court and there, sitting on a wooden bleacher seat near the end of the row, was the great, the magnificent and the entirely unassuming John Wooden. Wooden was a regular at Bruins home games, where he would be approached by wave after wave of well-meaning fans. He would always give them a smile, or shy wave, or a word or two. He was gentle dignity personified.
Later, he would write the foreword of Bill Walton's 1995 autobiography. As the co-author, I was the one who did the interview with Coach Wooden. It was one of the best 30 minutes of my life.
We lost a legendary coach tonight. Walton lost one of his best friends. Ninety-nine years is a good life. But when it comes to Wooden, it wasn't nearly enough.