Applying Wooden to the Raiders


It’s laughable on its face, comparing any of the philosophies of John Wooden with the Raiders.

It’s not as if there were any John and Nell sideline shots in the Los Angeles Raiders days, or that Wooden ever ventured into the Black Hole, although a Sam Gilbert shot wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

Wooden never talked about winning. The most famous saying affixed to Al Davis is “Just win, baby,” although the most accurate quotation is believed to have stopped at “win.”

But I’ve had a soft spot for Wooden and UCLA ever since my dad, while on a family Thanksgiving trip to Van Nuys, suggested we take a shot at seeing the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion, where they were hosting Wisconsin.

Having already developed some of the skepticism in my early teens which would follow me into my eventual career, I told my dad he was crazy. No way we were going to simply walk up and watch a perennial champion such as UCLA play, not with Bill Walton-Keith Wilkes team already taking the nation by storm.

My dad was right, of course. Over the holiday, tickets weren’t that hard to come by. UCLA hammered Wisconsin and I soaked in every minute. Later, because of a local recreation director and Cal graduate who liked to load a small van full of kids to see his beloved Golden Bears, I saw the Bruins and Walton play at Harmon Gym for three straight seasons.

My dad also brought me to my first Raiders game, eventually went in on season tickets, got me to the Sea of Hands game, etc. . . .

Anyway, as flimsy as this connection is between the late coach of UCLA, my late father, and the Raiders, things are slow enough to spend a few minutes applying some of Wooden’s most famous quotations to the team I’ve covered since they returned to Oakland in 1995. You want hard news? The Raiders Web site confirmed the signing of cornerback Joe Porter on its transactions page.

So away we go with how some of the most famous quotes of Wooden could be applied positively and negatively to the Raiders:

I’d rather have a lot of talent and little experience than a lot of experience and little talent

Davis is big on young talent these days. He’s shown little interest in available veterans and is looking to some fruitful drafts in the last few years (few people outside of those who see the Raiders on a daily basis understand this) to change things.

Ability is a poor man’s wealth

Tommy Kelly, an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State, is big enough, strong enough and fast enough to have received an $18.25 million guarantee even while coming off an ACL tear.

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team

In 1997, Greg Biekert was surrounded by players lacking in motivation and belief, and appeared lost and ineffective. The following year, with a new defensive coordinator (Willie Shaw) and an upgraded cast who cared, he was an effective leader and a positive force.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be

This one stings. It’s Darrell Russell.

Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out

Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski had been dumped by Tampa Bay, Cleveland and St. Louis _ the dregs of the NFL. And look what he did last year against Pittsburgh. The Raiders signed Jason Campbell to start this year, but Gradkowski got a tender worth nearly $1.8 million and will inspire confidence as a backup.

For an athlete to function properly, he must be intent. There has to be a definite purpose and goal if you are to progress. If you are not intent about what you are doing, you aren’t able to resist the temptation to do something else that might be more fun at the moment.

Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers lived up to this quotation. The Charles Woodson of the Raiders did not.

Young people need models, not critics

Richard Seymour would be the former, Warren Sapp the latter.

Never mistake activity for achievement

I’m a big fan of Kirk Morrison in a lot of ways, but the fact that he led the Raiders in tackles for the last five years doesn’t mean a lot considering the bottom line.

Be quick, but don’t hurry

Darren McFadden seems to be tripped up way too often when looking to get farther upfield. Marcus Allen got farther upfield by being patient.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Jon Gruden couldn’t get every player he wanted, and may have picked the wrong guys occasionally even if he could. But it never stopped him from doing everything he could from getting the 53 players at his disposal to play at something approaching their peak.

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights

Lane Kiffin, who some liked to compare to Gruden, was really the anti-Gruden. He gave up on the 53 to battle the owner.

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you

The more you look in to the off-field interests of Nnamdi Asomugha, the more he seems like a better person than he is a football player.

By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail

Has any team ever had two more extremes within a five-year period than Rich Gannon and JaMarcus Russell?


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • La Milicia Negra Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 7:10 am
    # Just Fire Baby Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 7:03 am

    All right than, thanks LMN.

    More bikes than people? How is that possible?

    a bike at the sommerhouse, a bike at work, if you talke public transportation (something both counties a keen on as well) and the bus/train/metro stops a bit from your work, we most often have an old bike which we use the rest of the way… btw, the street has designated space for bike-riders so you are always safe and you will certainly get there before the car, if its in a city… and of course a bike at home..
    Cars are the scourge of society. If you own a car and live in a city, then you are an irresponsible a**hole.

  • Twocents

    Freedom, motorcycles and beer. Long live the Danes!

  • I will be right back, I need some comfort food to deal with this loss…maybe some cheetos and some reese’s buttercups…maybe some kit kats too….

  • jhill

    I need some comfort food to deal with this loss…maybe some cheetos and some reese’s buttercups…maybe some kit kats too….


    Yeah, that sounds good. I’m going to raid my 4 year old lunch pail since I just now decided I’m not taking her to school today, lol.

    Bad parent!

  • M Lonetree


    I’ve been told that there are some beautiful places in the Sangre de Cristos near to Chimayo if you ever want a dose of the great outdoors.

    And Las Vegas, N.M. is not far away if you are feeling nostalgic for a Vegas.

  • Dakota Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 7:59 am
    I will be right back, I need some comfort food to deal with this loss…maybe some cheetos and some reese’s buttercups…maybe some kit kats too….


    Jack Links is workin for me…

  • Went with Cheetos, Reese Buttercups and a KING SIZE Snickers…and a Coke.

    Why worry about blood pressure at a time like this? I don’t want to live to see those Celtic’s Sports Illustrated commercials for the next six months….

  • MistaBrown

    Did the Lakers lose? Who are they playing?

    Go A’s

  • jhill

    It’s all house $ now Dakota.

    We were supposed to lose to SA in rd 2, remember?

    With the games being every other day now, old arss Celtics lose 2 outta the next 3.

  • jhill

    Just Fire Baby Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Guarantee the Lakers would trade Artest for Ariza right now.


    Not at all.

    THE reason the added Artest was Boston.

    Well that and the fact that Ariza’s agent was pretty stupid.

  • RaiderRockstar

    not a pretty game from the Celtics.

    they shot .433 in Game 1 and lost

    they shot .429 in Game 2 and won

    26 free throws for the Celtics

    41 free throws for the Lakers

    as Jhill said on Friday:

    Miss me with the ref madness!

    Might be a sweep.

    Rockstar says “it’s not impossible to keep Bryant under 30 points”

    Jhill says: I guess you don’t know who is going to stop Kobe?


    Ray Allen?

    Double team? Who do you leave open?

    (My vote is for Artest)

  • I blame myself for this catastrophe…..I badmouthed Ray Allen before the series began…karma

  • If the Lakers would have activated Adam Morrison, the championship would have been easy. The Celtics have no one who could stop him.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Here’s a solution to all the controversy over full-body scanners at the airports.

    Have a booth that you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you.

    It would be a win-win for everyone, there would be none of this crap about racial profiling and this method would eliminate a long and expensive trial. Justice would be quick and swift. Case closed!

    This is so simple that it’s brilliant. I can see it now: you’re in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion.

    Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA system, “Attention standby passengers we now have a seat available on flight number…”

    Works for me!

  • jhill

    Foul trouble kept Kobe under 30 pts.

    Pierce and Artest were at war all night. Pierce put that same D on Artest that Artest put on Pierce. Pierce was even D-ing up Artest on the FT line.

    Notice the 5 assists Kobe had in the 1st qtr when they doubled?

  • jhill

    Have a booth that you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you.



  • RaiderRockstar

    new post!

  • LMAO RR.

  • djohnnyg

    Tell me one owner in history who built a championship team ALL BY HIMSELF?

    You rip on Al for NOT hiring a GM, but rip on him because at one time HE DID have one. Is Al to be criticised because the one he hired was actually good?