18. John Wooden (1910-2010)

Hello and welcome to a special March Madness edition of the “Church of Christ Celebrities” blog! Please don’t forget that topic suggestions are always welcome; I still have a few potential subjects left on my list, but I’m happy to take requests if you have any particular celebs you’d like for me to research. Thanks as well for your likes and shares.

Today’s entry finds us returning to the wide world of sports–and more specifically, to the realm of men’s college basketball. John Wooden (1910-2010), the most successful coach of all time in that particular competition, led UCLA to ten championships in twelve years, during which time his team also won a record-setting 88 consecutive games. Wooden coached a number of future NBA stars during his storied career, including Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and has come to be seen as a bit of a leadership “guru” to boot.

A friend asked a while back if I would feature Wooden on the blog, as he had heard that the coach was a member of Churches of Christ. Is there anything to the rumor?



As it turns out, we don’t have to go far to find an answer to our question, and so today’s entry will be relatively brief. Wooden was certainly a religious man and highly involved in his church, but his affiliation was with the Disciples of Christ rather than Churches of Christ. In fact, when the coach passed away in 2010, an obituary was featured on the official Disciples website, which offered the following information:

Disciple and legendary college basketball coach John Wooden recently died at the age of 99… ‘He was born and raised in my home state of Indiana and was a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the church in which I was born, baptized and ordained, so I’ve been hearing about ‘Coach’ all my life,’ said Central Ohio story teller and supply preacher Jeff Gill. (1)

Based on the above quotation, it seems pretty clear that Wooden was closely connected with a religious group with strong historical ties to Churches of Christ and the Stone-Campbell movement–but not actually to Churches of Christ. As such, today’s short entry is DEBUNKED. Now get back to watching some basketball, and join us again in two weeks’ time for the next post here at the “Church of Christ Celebrities” blog!



(1) “Legendary basketball coach and Disciple John Wooden dies,” Disciples News Service, July 8, 2010, accessed January 14, 2018, http://disciples.org/obituaries/legendary-basketball-coach-and-disciple-john-wooden-dies/ .

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