John Wooden is forever known, first and foremost, as the coach who led UCLA to 10 NCAA titles. But the Indiana born-and-bred basketball legend has strong ties to the Hoosier State still to this day. He was a tremendous player -- people forget this; Wooden was a three-time All-American and one of the first true stars of college basketball -- while playing for the Boilermakers, including winning the Player of the Year in 1932.
Wooden's playing days came before there was an NCAA Tournament. But in 1932, the Boilermakers were awarded the national championship by the Helms Athletic Foundation.
On Saturday, Purdue formally dedicated a statue to Wooden, who died in June 2010 when at 99 years old, outside its basketball venue, Mackey Arena. It's one of the better statutes you'll see. Visually, it gets Wooden just right, in terms of who he was when he was a young man. The statue isn't huge, and the presentation is an appropriate mix of deference and humility.
"The statue is gift of alumnus Jim Hicks and was designed by Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of Highland, Illinois, portraying Wooden during his playing days," per Purdue's press release. "Hicks, a 1961 Purdue graduate, and his wife, Neta, donated $2 million to establish the Jim and Neta Hicks Endowment for Leadership in Agriculture at the university. Part of the gift was used to fund the Wooden statue."
The great touch with the statue is how Wooden's iconic Pyramid of Success is displayed behind him.
Let's take a closer look at this statue. Wooden is jacked!
This is now the kind of thing you'll see coming back from commercial pretty much any time Purdue plays a game on national television. Wooden's legacy at Purdue will forever endure.