By Bill Walton
As I travel this great country working as a broadcaster calling basketball games, I always get asked, "How did it feel winning NCAA Championships and NBA Championships?" I always tell them that it is more important to be a champion in life than a champion in sports. As my former Coach John Wooden would tell me, "Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." This has been something that has stuck with me my entire career both playing basketball and now as a sports broadcaster but more importantly as a person.
Coach Wooden taught me and this whole world so many valuable lessons, and while a number of people might think of the incredible sayings Coach Wooden said are just for sports and athletes, they would be incredibly mistaken. In fact, I strongly believe that Coach Wooden's sayings are more geared towards everyone in life than even sports and athletes.
There's an important adage: Be the best you can be. The same principle applies here: You have to see yourself as a champion long before you actually become one. While it's a major advantage to be born with an abundance of talent or physical gifts, what will set you apart is your attitude ... your determination ... and your drive.
I was so fortunate to learn the core lessons of being a better person and a better champion my coach at UCLA John Wooden. Coach Wooden had many famous sayings and quotes but I have chosen 16 that help define me and what I strive to remember and live by each day. I believe they would be valuable life lessons for you to live by as well:
1. "Be True To Yourself"
2. "Help Others"
3. "Be Quick, Don't Hurry"
4. "Be Prepared and Be Honest"
5. "Failure Is Not Fatal, But Failure To Change Might Be"
6. "Discipline Yourself And Others Won't Need To"
7. "If You Are Not Making Mistakes, Then You Aren't Doing Anything. I'm Positive A Doer Makes Mistakes"
8. "Make Each Day Your Masterpiece"
9. "The Main Ingredient Of Stardom Is The Rest Of The Team"
10. "Do Not Let What You Can't Do Interfere With What You Can Do"
11. "It's Not So Important Who Starts The Game But Who Finishes It"
12. "If You Don't Have The Time To Do It Right, When Will You Have The Time To Do It Over?"
13. "You Can't Let Either Praise Or Criticism Get To You ... It Is A Weakness To Get Caught Up In Either One"
14. "Winning Takes Talent. To Repeat Takes Character."
15. "The People Who Turn Out The Best Are Those People Who Make The Best Out Of The Way Things Turn Out"
16. "Success Comes From Knowing That You Did Your Best To Become The Best That You Are Capable Of Becoming"
Think how better this world would be if everyone strived to live their life with these principles. Think about how teams would perform if each player on the team lived their life with these principles. That particular team would be unbeatable.
Most of Coach Wooden's quotes are part of the reason his Pyramid of Success became so recognized with winning in life and in sports. It is also a major reason I won the championships I did in the NCAA and NBA, and more importantly a major factor of who I am today as a man.
During my time at UCLA and the 13 years I spent in the pros with the Portland Trail Blazers, Clippers and Boston Celtics, I learned the importance of team chemistry, everyone working together to be the best, and to helping your teammates be the best they can be. Having won back-to-back national championships at UCLA and then two NBA World Championships with the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics, I learned firsthand about the hard work, dedication, tireless training and commitment that not only I needed to contribute, but every member of each of the teams I was on, had to contribute for us to have the success we did. When a group of people can come together and be unified and committed to one goal the results can be limitless.
In closing, while I was a collegiate and professional athlete most of my career and now serve as a sports broadcaster, I absolutely believe that Coach Wooden's quotes and sayings were mottos for me to not only compete with athletically but to live my life as well. The knowledge and incredible pieces of wisdom that Coach Wooden shared with me personally and the whole world were truly magical and something all of us can use every day To Become A True Champion and a Better Person.
-- Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton will help host the NCAA Experience Official VIP Pregame Party, managed by PrimeSport, on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as part of the Final Four festivities. Visit NCAA.com/VIP for ticket information.