Every day during my walk down Bruinwalk from the Hill to campus, I see the statue of John Wooden outside Pauley Pavilion and look at what could have been.
The last name, since the beginning of time, has been a derivation of the occupation of whomever it is describing. This is why many people have last names such as Baker, Cook, or Hunter. Thus, it is a reasonable assumption that those with the last name Wooden will have to somehow consummate this association and metamorphose into wood. Yet, if one takes a look at the statue’s somber expression, it is clear that this destiny may never be fulfilled for John Wooden.
Instead of rich mahogany or swarthy cherry, the body of the NCAA record-holding coach is trapped inside the unfeeling confines of bronze, akin to Han Solo’s carbonite encasement in Star Wars Episode V. The only difference is that Jabba the Hutt had the decency to keep Han Solo indoors to be admired by heralded crime lords of the galaxy, whereas UCLA officials have left the statue of John Wooden exposed to the elements. With the rain campus has received, poor John Wooden will eventually look like the Statue of Liberty, all green and tarnished, when he could have been harnessing the sexiness of aged wood.
Basketball is a game of heart. It’s spontaneous, organic, and alive, so it’s only fitting that his statue should be made of wood. Wood comes from trees, which are living organisms that reach for the light and strive to become better, actions that John Wooden embodied. Yet, his statue is made of metal, which comes from rocks, and I have never once seen a rock strive for anything better. Rocks are passive in life, waiting for wind, roots, or glaciers to erode them.
People of UCLA, our “Wizard of Westwood” deserves better, for a wizard and his wand should be made of wood.