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A ‘transformative figure in sports and leadership’

John Wooden’s stamp is dedicated in Los Angeles

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at a podium near a poster displaying a stamp that shows an illustrated portrait of John Wooden
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks during the John Wooden stamp dedication ceremony.

John Wooden’s extraordinary contributions to college basketball were celebrated Feb. 24 at the Los Angeles dedication ceremony for the stamp honoring him.

Considered by many to be the greatest coach in the history of American sports, Wooden led the UCLA Bruins men’s team to a record-setting 10 NCAA Division I national championships.

In addition to his unparalleled success on the court, he is remembered for teaching his players how to achieve excellence in all areas of life.

“John Wooden’s contributions transcended basketball, offering lessons in integrity, teamwork and personal excellence that resonate across our nation,” said Derek Kan, a member of the USPS Board of Governors who spoke at the ceremony.

“In dedicating this stamp, the United States Postal Service honors not just a legendary coach, but a transformative figure in sports and leadership.”

The event was held at UCLA.

Other speakers included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played for Wooden’s Bruins during three consecutive championship seasons; Gene Block, the school’s chancellor; Valorie Kondos Field, former head coach of the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team; and Christy Impelman, Wooden’s eldest granddaughter.

Jamaal “Silk” Wilkes, a three-time NBA All-Star who played for Wooden’s Bruins for two championship seasons, was master of ceremonies.

Growing up in Indiana, Wooden was a three-time All-American basketball player at Purdue University. He played professional basketball and coached high school students before serving in the Navy as a lieutenant during World War II.

Wooden began his career at UCLA in 1948 and retired in 1975.

During his tenure, the Bruins had four perfect seasons. From 1971 through 1974, the team won an unprecedented 88 consecutive games — a record that remains unbroken.

Wooden became equally known for his philosophy on personal excellence, integrity and a life guided by strong principles, which he laid out in his “pyramid of success.”

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame twice: in 1960, as a player for Purdue in the 1930s, and in 1973, as a coach.

Wooden is credited with helping to break the color barrier in collegiate basketball as a coach, and he was named the NCAA’s college basketball coach of the year six times.

Wooden was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2003 by President George W. Bush. He died in 2010 at age 99.

The Forever stamp — which features an illustrated portrait of Wooden, based on an early 1970s photograph by Norm Schindler— is available in panes of 20 at Post Offices and