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|Wooden impressed Cade|
Former Ferriday High boys basketball coach Robert Cade went on a scavenger hunt after the passing of former UCLA legendary coach John Wooden on June 4.
"We had moved a lot of things around," Cade said. "But I knew I had to find it."
What Cade eventually found was a poster-size framed photograph of himself with Wooden and former LSU men's basketball coach Dale Brown that was taken by Natchez High boy's basketball coach Mike Martin in the 1980s.
The three are seated on the LSU bench at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
"Coach Wooden came down for a camp," Cade said. "All the coaches that Coach Brown brought in were somebody who didn't talk about basketball, but talked about life."
Cade was coaching at Ferriday High at the time. He led the Trojans to two state championships — in 1988 and 1989.
Cade and his wife Betty are ministers at Word of Faith Christian Center in Natchez.
"When we had a Pastor Appreciation Day 11 years ago, Coach Brown came down for it," said Cade, who daughter Robbie is Brown's Goddaughter.
Wooden, who in 27 years led his teams to stunning triumphs and was just as well known for mentoring his players off the court and for his motivational "Pyramid of Success," died due to natural causes. He was 99. His 100th birthday would have been Oct. 14.
"Coach Wooden talked about life and about the Pyramids," Cade said. "The thing I remember about him more than anything was his demeanor. He was like a father or grandfather. He was someone you could always go to for advice. And he would always head you in the right direction. He was mild and meek. He wasn't flamboyant. If you didn't know him, you would think he was just the guy next door."
At UCLA, Wooden's teams won a remarkable seven consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships between 1967 and 1973, and 10 titles (1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975) in his final 12 seasons as head coach. At one point in the early 1970s, the Bruins won an NCAA-record 88 games in a row, a run that included undefeated 30-0 seasons in 1971-72 and 1972-73.
UCLA also won 38 consecutive NCAA Tournament games between the 1963-64 and 1973-74 seasons, another record. Wooden retired from coaching following the 1975 season with a UCLA record of 620 wins and 147 losses. Only twice during his tenure did the Bruins lose home games at Pauley Pavilion, where he coached from the 1965-66 through 1974-75 seasons.
"I think a lot of success was due to his belief in people and in God," Cade said. "He always stressed that. He believed in the best of people. He never judged. He had a lot of kids from impoverished backgrounds. He took those athletes and molded them and led them in a positive direction. He was very disciplined and very well prepared in everything he did. He didn't worry about scouting the other team, he just believed if his team did it's job, that was good enough."
Cade said he changed a lot of people's lives.
"He helped his players start feeling good about themselves and that they had some order in their life," Cade said. "Once they had that feeling, they never wanted to go back to disorder. He was truly a special person."
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