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June 08, 2010

Wade praises Wooden

Like all coaches, Wade Phillips had great respect for former UCLA coach John Wooden, who died at age 99 on Friday.

“You can look up to something like that whether you’re in football, basketball or baseball,” Phillips said.

In particular, Phillips like Wooden because of Wooden’s calm demeanor. In the past, Phillips has been criticized for the same thing

“He was kind of a mild mannered guy that got over to his players what he wanted to get over to them and got them to execute,” Phillips said, “and that’s what you’re looking for.”

While at the University of Houston, Phillips was at one of the most famous basketball games in history. On January 20, 1968, in the first regular season college game that was televised nationally, Phillips sat in the end zone watching as Elvin Hayes and the Houston Cougars defeated Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor) and Wooden’s UCLA team 71-69 before more than 50,000 fans at the Astrodome. 

“I was in the end zone, which was about 400 miles away,” Phillips said. “We didn’t have Jerry’s video board. I was excited to go to the game.”

The game was 42 years ago, but Phillips has forgotten little.

“Elvin had 39 points and 15 rebounds,” Phillips correctly stated. “We [were in the same dorm] with those guys -- Don Chaney and those guys. We didn’t play basketball with them because they were too good, but we hung around with them and they were obviously great guys.”

-- Jan Hubbard



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