John Wooden

Legend or Critic?

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was once asked his opinion of former Indiana coach Bobby Knight. Wooden would only respond…

“I think Bob Knight is an outstanding teacher of the game of basketball, but I don’t approve of his methods. But I’m not a judge, and I’m not judging Bob Knight. There is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us, it hardly behooves me to talk about the rest of us.”

I think he understood what Henry Kaiser once said, “When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

Wooden, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 99, has shown us what a legend looks like.

He was not only a gentlemen on the court, he also set records that may never be broken. His 10 national championships, his 88 game winning streak, his phenomenal winning percentage, the players he groomed for stardom in the NBA — this is his legacy; he had no reason to add the title of “outspoken critic” to the list.


In your life and mine, in your work and mine, there are a number of potential (even so-called “valid”) targets of our own outspoken criticism.

If we’re not careful, they can take up all of our time and attention.

And if we’re not careful, we can be sidetracked into thinking that our opinions are more important than our actions.

It’s what you do that ultimately makes a difference. Talk isn’t enough. Opinions aren’t enough. Criticism, no matter how on-target or how well-articulated, is never enough.

You prove who you are by the way that you live.

Paul asked…

So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10)

Let’s strive, then, toward leaving a legacy built not upon our estimation of others, but upon our own measurable accomplishments.

Criticize less, do more.

That’s what a legend looks like.