Giants head coach Tom Coughlin wasn’t just another head coach who admired Coach John Wooden from afar.
Coughlin was a huge fan who talked to Coach Wooden over the phone a few times a year dating back to the mid-1990’s. It didn’t matter that the two were part of two different professions. Coach Wooden’s teachings transcended basketball and sports. The Journal News wrote last year about Coughlin's relationship with Wooden, how his office at Giants Stadium was filled with Wooden phrases and teachings and how Coughlin got a chance of a lifetime and visited the legendary coach at his apartment for a three-hour conversation.
Coughlin said the meeting was a top-10 moment as far as things he wants to do before he dies.
Wooden’s teachings have had a major impact on the Giants head coach and he released this statement on Saturday following Wooden’s death.
"There is a great sense of emptiness today. We all knew this day was coming, and there was nobody more prepared for it than Coach Wooden because of his devout faith in God and his love for his late wife Nell and the knowledge that he would one day be together with her again. He was a man at peace.”
"Still, that sense of emptiness comes from knowing we have lost a national treasure.”
"I was very blessed and fortunate to have had a chance to visit with Coach Wooden a couple years ago just after the league meetings in California. My wife Judy had been encouraging me for years to make a point of going to see Coach Wooden, and with the help of mutual friends, I was able to.”
"I spent three hours talking, but mostly listening, to Coach Wooden. It seemed like five minutes.”
"What I have always appreciated about his philosophy is its simplicity and that it transcended sports. He wasn't just a basketball coach, he was and is a life coach, and for that, we can all be thankful. He was the best living example of his teachings about teamwork, preparedness and humility."