Twenty years ago, I got to meet Wooden at an event for suits. One of the Master-Of-The-Universe types asked Wooden about his greatest accomplishment. Wooden didn’t miss a beat, “I was an Academic All-American at Purdue.”
This CEO puffed himself up and retorted, “But what about all those championships at UCLA?” Wooden quipped, “I didn’t make a single bounce pass or layup — the boys did all that.”
The CEO was now disoriented and looked lost. “I don’t understand, Coach. You were their leader.”
Wooden studied this guy for a minute and quietly asked, “Tell me, sir. Do you have many employees at your company?”
The guy was now back on top. “More than 60,000 and we did about $12 billion in revenue last year!”
Wooden’s eyes twinkled as he asked, “Tell me, how much could you do all by yourself?”
The CEO fell quiet. Wooden had a point to all the outsized egos in the room — you can only win with a team. It was a priceless moment with a timeless man.
Obviously, that’s not me. It was from an email by James Brown sent to Rick Reilly from ESPN.com. The original is here (near the bottom).