Wooden Becomes Star Among the Stars


If only the American Basketball Assn. could bring the same name recognition to the court that it brings to the front office, it might gain some visibility.

John Wooden, the legendary former UCLA coach, is the latest to sign on with the fledgling professional league that kicked off its inaugural season last month.

Wooden, 90, will be introduced as a consultant for the Los Angeles Stars at a Thursday news conference at the Great Western Forum.

In his new position, Wooden said he will attend games and perhaps some practices and generally be available to answer questions.


“I agreed to serve in the capacity that they wanted--sort of an advisor,” Wooden said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Stars would not comment, coyly saying only that Wooden “will not be coaching” the team, which is led by former Laker coach Paul Westhead and whose roster includes former UCLA players Ed O’Bannon, Toby Bailey and JaRon Rush.

The consultant’s job, for which Wooden said he will be paid a “very minimal” salary, will reunite the coach who guided UCLA to 10 NCAA championships with one of his former players, Jamaal Wilkes, who is the Stars’ vice president of basketball operations.

“I agreed, to be honest, because of Jamaal,” Wooden said. “I’m very, very fond of him. I don’t know of a finer person.


“If he’s involved in it and thinks in any way that I can be of help, I’d like to help Jamaal.”

Wooden said Wilkes approached him “some time ago.”

“I put it off a little bit,” he said, “but I finally agreed that I would do it just so I could possibly be of help to him. It’s going to be a tough row, I know.”

Wooden said he did not ask to be paid.


“I’d do it for nothing,” he said. “I didn’t really want anything, but they insisted I take a little something.”