I was able to spend a few minutes on the phone with UCLA legend Sidney Wicks, who was just inducted into the National Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, and he had some great things to say about his career, his teammates and his coach.
Wicks was a three-time national champion, a two-time All-American and the 1970 NCAA Final Four most outstanding player. He went on to a 10-year NBA career, in which he was named to the All-Star team four times and the 1972 NBA rookie of the year.
Check out our interview after the jump…
JG: What was your first reaction to the honor?
SW: My immediate reaction was it was cool. Man, the NABC Hall of Fame.
JG: Describe playing for UCLA in that era.
SW “Being coached by Coach Wooden – he’s the best coach that ever coached any sport, ever. That’s saying a lot, but he is that person. He is the best coach at any sport at any era at any time. Now, to go along with that, we had an exceptional coaching staff. We had a great staff. Then we had some of the best players ever. We played. There were some troubled times, some social unrest, but it was a challenge every day, every practice, every game. You didn’t want to let anyone down because everyone worked so hard to make it.”
JG: Talk about playing during a time of social unrest with the rest of your teammates.
SW: “It was so much fun. It was playing around with some great guys – the camaradarie on the team was really unparalleled. We all had that bond. We all as basketball players were cool guys, hanging out, playing the game we loved, and playing the highest level of competition.”
JG: How does this honor stack up to the rest of your basketball accolades?
SW: “I don’t really need this stuff. My memory hasn’t gone yet. Just talking with friends, just reminiscing, just thinking about it, meeting new people and finding out wabout UCLA – that always bombards your subconcious. We had a pretty good run there, and not only did we have a goiod run, but I was a part of it. All these other things that happened, this is just like someone saying, as a player in college, these are all the things you accomplished. By doing all these things, this is what happens. This is my reward. This is my show of recognition.”
JG: Are you following the team this year?
SW: “Yeah, I’m a Bruin fan, are you kidding? Yes, I do follow the team. I don’t get a chance to see all the games – on the East coast they dont play too many Pac-10 games – but I do follow the team. I know they’re having a tough year this year, but all I can say to the coaching staff is persevere. Stay together, learn and be hungry for next year. Next year is going to come soon. Coach Wooden, he used to tell us, ‘Every day after pracitce, look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Did I do the best I can do?’ Thats all he could do.”
JG: Talk about playing for John Wooden:
SW: “More than anything else was how he was able to relate to people. He mentored you as a person. So many things you can do and say and be, he’s seen it. He weaved his web to bring the kids together, have them mature as people and adults and players. He was good at it. He would say something to you, ‘Be quick, but don’t hurry,’ but then you have these examples in front of you of people going out and doing what he said. For me, that experience was unbelievable. I wish everyone could have that experience. I would share it with people.”