February 17, 1975
Dave Meyers has that John Wooden gleam in his eye. He doesn't carry a rolled-up program while he works, he doesn't lead a Top 20 program or even teach fundamentals as a savvy high school coach. Meyers, a former UCLA All-America and NBA forward, is in his 12th year of teaching, leading fourth-graders at Railroad Canyon Elementary in Temecula, Calif., in reading drills that won't do anything for their jump shots but might give them an early love of learning. What, no basketball? "What I learned from Coach went deeper than basketball," says Meyers.
At UCLA, Meyers thrived under the tutelage of a hoops professor who savored the virtues of textbook box-outs and crisp chest passes. Wooden did his coaching at practice, hardly spoke during games and always left his office door open. "Coach would love to talk to you about anything," says Meyers. "We wanted to please him so badly, we played our hearts out."
Meyers played with a zeal that scared opponents. His spidery arms seemed to reach every rebound, his wiry frame set ferocious picks, and he recklessly dived on loose balls. After serving as captain of the 1974-75 Bruins that won the Wizard's 10th and last NCAA crown, Meyers landed with the Milwaukee Bucks. By the 1979-80 season the Bucks, with center Bob Lanier and guard Sidney Moncrief joining Meyers, seemed ready to vie for NBA supremacy. Then in the summer of '80 Meyers walked away. He missed his wife, Linda, and young children, Crystal and Sean, and "my church became the focus of my life," says Meyers. " Lanier says I cost him his championship."
After retiring, Meyers, who had become a Jehovah's Witness in 1977, devoted a lot of time to church work, took a job in sales for Motorola and started taking night classes in education at National University. (He already had a degree in sociology from UCLA.) Twelve years ago he began teaching and has devoted his energy to family, teaching and church ever since. However, he hasn't completely forgotten basketball. At the suggestion of his sister, former Bruins star Ann Meyers Drysdale, he began in '94 to lead children's basketball clinics and has found he enjoys teaching the game to players ages eight to 12. "You never forget Coach Wooden's little drills," Meyers says. Still, he favors teaching the fundamentals of reading over basketball. Has he retained his playing intensity? "It's still there," says Meyers. "It just goes into other things now."