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Another Honor for List : Wooden Gets Award but Wants to Talk Pants

TIMES STAFF WRITER

He is not pleased with the direction his sport is going--the taunting, the physical play, the increasing number of players leaving college early for the NBA draft.

Then there is an issue that really irks John Wooden: the bloomers players wear.

“I’m surprised they don’t trip and fall,” Wooden said humorously. “I tease Coach [Jim] Harrick all the time that I’m going to stay outside Pauley Pavilion and campaign and not go in until they don’t wear them anymore.”

Wooden, the man who is synonymous with college basketball but really prefers baseball, received the Theodore Roosevelt Award at a banquet held during the NCAA convention Sunday night. It is the NCAA’s most prestigious honor bestowed on an individual and brings the number of Wooden’s lifetime awards to, well . . .

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“A lot,” he says.

The “Teddy” award is presented annually by the NCAA Honors Committee to a distinguished citizen who is a former college athlete and has exemplified the ideals and purposes of college athletics. Wooden lettered in baseball and basketball at Purdue. In 1932, he led his team to the national collegiate championship and was college basketball’s player of the year. After graduating, Wooden spent the next 11 years coaching high school basketball and baseball and teaching English. After two coaching seasons at Indiana State, Wooden went on to coach UCLA to a record 10 NCAA championships.

“I’m very flattered to receive this award,” Wooden said.

“I have spent most of my life in the teaching profession and do not think there is a profession more influential to the youth of our country.”

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