To Wooden's credit, he has never defended either himself or his system by pointing to all of those national championships. "Winning isn't the most important thing," he says. He also has maintained closer relationships with his players after they have departed UCLA and are past what one player calls "the emotional chaos" of the player-coach association. Alcindor, for example, has since apologized for some of his remarks about Wooden, and just last month appeared quite by surprise for a private dinner party at the Bel Air Country Club to celebrate his former coach's 60th birthday. Seibert, too, has made his peace with Wooden—just before he left for Australia and a coaching and teaching position that Wooden had obtained for him.
"Insensitive?" the coach asks. "I don't think so. All I want to know is, have I been fair? Not have I been right, because I know I haven't always been. But have I been fair? I think I have. I always remember to do my best, and I have peace of mind."
Undoubtedly, too, there are times when John Wooden remembers what he told his players late on a night seven long years ago, moments after they had won that first national title. "Now you are champions," he said. "And you must act like champions. You met some people going up. You will meet the same people going down." Even with the many crises at UCLA, college basketball continues to wonder when that will be.