WESTWOOD—After standing motionless on a pedestal in front of Pauley Pavilion for over three years, legendary basketball coach John Wooden finally removed his bronze body paint and left his post Monday night.
“Let me tell you, being able to uncross my arms again is just heavenly,” Wooden said as he cracked his knuckles. “And shifting my weight off of my right leg? Boy oh boy – it feels like a dream.”
Wooden reportedly first assumed his position in front of Pauley Pavilion when he “needed to clear his thoughts” after losing a game of Jenga against Chancellor Gene Block in October 2012.
“I remember falling into a deep reverie,” Wooden said as he brushed his teeth in the men’s restroom in Ackerman. “I wanted it to last forever. So I came back the next day, covered in bronze paint, and decided to stay. I planned on being there for a day, maybe two days tops, but boy, did I lose track of time.”
Wooden stated that he rarely moved or left his pedestal during his three years in front of Pauley Pavilion, only eating various leaves and local squirrels that happened to come his way.
“Sometimes, someone would drop a Chipotle wrapper with some guacamole still smushed up inside, and I’d snatch it up for dinner. That was always a real treat,” Wooden said. “If I ever needed to run a quick errand, I’d always save it for Thursday night, so that the only people who saw me move could chalk it up to being really, really wasted.”
Although Wooden has not yet made definitive plans to repaint himself and stand frozen in front of Pauley Pavilion once more, he considers his past three years to have been a “tremendous success, both spiritually and philosophically.”
“I watched the seasons change. I watched people fall in love,” Wooden said. “Faces without names lived out stories I would never hear, had dreams and prayers I would never understand. Day after day, I watched a thousand worlds pass me by as if I were invisible. But this did not make me feel insignificant – no, I embraced it, because it made me feel free.”
Wooden hopes that the values he gained from his experience will inspire others, and plans to make an addition to his iconic Pyramid of Success accordingly.
“Right now, we have ‘Success’ as the uppermost point – but you know what’s higher than the tip of a pyramid? A statue on top of the pyramid,” Wooden said, using a black sharpie to draw a statue standing atop the Pyramid of Success in the Wooden Center. “It represents what you need after you’ve reached success, when you think you finally have it all – it represents everything you can understand if you just take the time to stop, and listen.”