Kareem about Wooden

One of the greatest scorers in the history of NBA basketball in the United States. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, formerly Lew Alcindor. An intelligent, very thoughtful person. On and off the basketball court.

He, like so many other players at UCLA – University of California Los Angeles – who played under coach John Wooden, was greatly influenced by Wooden.

In this talk Abdul-Jabbar speaks about the great strengths of John Wooden. Not only in how he formed great basketball players and teams. But more importantly how he formed young men. And they were as players at UCLA young men between the ages of 18 and 22.

Why is this post listed under Germany instead of the USA? Because Wooden’s approach to coaching is more indicative of the German leadership logic than of the American.

Wooden did not coach his players during the game. He gave only some very general instructions. Instead, he allowed them to apply what he had taught them during practice.

John Wooden always referred to himself as a basketball teacher. By the way, the official professional name for a soccer coach in the German Bundesliga is Fussball-Lehrer, literally soccer teacher.

How to Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons From Basketball’s Greatest Leader, by Pat Williams (2006, with David Wimbish): “He (Wooden) always focused on the details. He was a teacher who happened to be a basketball coach.”

Jesse Owens and Lutz Long

Berlin, 1936, the Olympic Games. The great American track and field athlete, Jesse Owens, wins the gold medal in the 100 meter, the 200 meter, the 4×100 meter dash, as well as in the long jump.

What many people don’t know, however, is that the silver medalist in the long jump, the German Carl Ludwig “Lutz” Long, had given Owens the kind of advice that only a true colleague, and friend, would give.

Going into the 1936 games Long had been the reigning German champion and holder of the European record. The Nazi hierarchy – and the German people – had anticipated gold for Germany.

In the qualification round Owens had fouled twice in a row by stepping on the white board delineating the jump-off point. A third foul would have disqualified him. Jesse Owens would have failed to advance to the final round. The crowd, the millions listening by radio, and especially Owens himself, were unsettled.

After that second fault, Lutz Long walked over to his competitor and advised him to simply imagine the foul line to be located one foot closer than it actually was, saying that he just had to avoid fouling a third time, and that his third jump would easily be enough to advance to the next round.

Some sources claim that Long went so far as to lay down his white towel marketing where Owens should leap from, ensuring that he would not foul a third time.

Jesse Owens took the advice given to him by that German, advancing to the final round, and then setting a record which would hold for decades. Lutz Long took the silver.

Immediately after the medal ceremony, when Owens and Long stepped off the podium – and in full view of Adolf Hitler and many of the highest ranking National Socialist officials – Lutz Long, the German, smiled, shook hands with Owens, then hooked Jesse’s right arm into his left and proceeded to walk with him around the track, smiling, talking, congratulating.

1936. Tensions in Europe were very high. The German regime was espousing a crude racial theory. And in the United States, an African-American like Jesse Owens was treated as a second-class citizen, at best. With the world watching, and in conscious defiance of his own government, Lutz Long, a German, reached out to his archrival to give a small bit of helpful advice. Unsolicited.

Postscript: After the 1936 Olympic Games Jesse Owens was celebrated triumphantly in the U.S., only then to be forgotten for two decades, and to struggle financially, until the 1950s brought him a presidential appointment as American Ambassador of Goodwill by Dwight Eisenhower, and with it lucrative celebrity endorsements as well as a long, healthy, happy life.

Lutz Long, his German friend, died in battle against the Western Allies in Italy at the age of thirty. Fast forward the video above to 1:38 mins:

“You could melt down all of the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating for the twenty-four carat friendship I felt for Lutz Long at that moment.” Jesse Owens

Walton about Wooden

In this very brief video, Bill Walton, describes the coaching philosophy of John Wooden. In the sense of how Wooden coached during the game.

John Wooden coached men’s basketball team at UCLA – The University of California at Los Angeles. He was most likely the most successful of all coaches at the university level.

Wooden did not coach his players during the game. He gave some general instructions. Instead, he allowed to apply what he had taught them during practice.

John Wooden always referred to himself as a basketball teacher. By the way, the official professional name for a soccer coach in the German Bundesliga is Fussball-Lehrer, literally soccer teacher.

Bill Walton was one of John Wooden’s, and basketball’s, greatest players. His finest game was the 1973 collegiate championship in which he scored 44 points, make 21 of 22 field goals.

Joe Louis and Max Schmeling

Not many people know of the great friendship between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, at their time the world’s greatest boxers.

June 19, 1936. In famed Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The American Joe Louis versus the German Max Schmeling. Their first of two fights. Louis undefeated 24-0 and never knocked down, hits the canvas in the twelfth round. The fight is over.

Round 12 starts at 27:27. At 29:27 Louis is defenseless. He goes down. The referee ends the fight. Schmeling rushes over to help Joe Louis. Schmeling stays with Louis all the way over to his corner of the ring. Schmeling’s people have to literally pull him away from Joe Louis.

Among the attendees of the fight was Langston Hughes, a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance and a noted literary figure. Hughes described the national reaction to Louis’ defeat in these terms:

“I walked down Seventh Avenue and saw grown men weeping like children, and women sitting in the curbs with their head in their hands. All across the country that night when the news came that Joe was knocked out, people cried.”

Poet and author Maya Angelou, recounted her recollection. A young Angelou had listened to the fight over the radio in her uncle’s country store in rural Arkansas. While Louis was on the ropes,

“My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another black man hanging on a tree …. this might be the end of the world. If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help. It would all be true, the accusations that we were lower types of human beings. Only a little higher than the apes.”

June 22, 1938 – one year from the day Louis had won the world heavyweight title – the fighters meet once again in a sold-out Yankee Stadium in New York City.

Louis defeats Schmeling in the very first round. Knowing what a true and loyal friend Schmeling was to become to Joe Louis at the end of Louis’ life, it breaks your heart to see how helpless Max Schmeling was in the final seconds of this first round.

After retiring from the ring, Schmeling purchased a Coca- Cola bottling and distribution franchise in Hamburg in 1948, the first in Germany after World War II.

Schmeling reached out and developed a friendship with Louis after their boxing careers ended and provided financial assistance to his former foe in the 1950s. He also paid for part of the funeral arrangements when Louis died in 1981. Max Schmeling was one of the pallbearers.

“It wasn’t until after World War II that I saw him again,” Louis said in his autobiography. “We hugged each other and we’re real friendly and kept in touch by phone.”

The battles between Louis, a black man, and Schmeling came to symbolize for some the coming struggle between Hitler’s Third Reich and the Allies in World War II. Although Hitler had praised Schmeling after the first fight, Schmeling was not an admirer of the German leader and refused to join the Nazi party.

Schmeling, who served as a German paratrooper in World War II, later received an award from the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation for risking his life to hide two Jewish brothers during the Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, when Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were attacked and destroyed by Nazis.

The boys, Henri and Werner Lewin, made their way to the U.S., where Henri became a hotel owner. Schmeling kept his act of courage secret. Henri Lewin revealed it at a dinner honoring the former champion in 1989:

“He risked his life for us. Our lives weren’t worth a penny,” Lewin said in a 2002 interview with the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. “I said, ‘If this is a Nazi, he’s a good Nazi. But I want you to know one thing: I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for this Nazi.'”

Max Schmeling never joined the Nazi Party.

August 9, 1973. Legendary boxers and great friends, Max Schmeling and Joe Louis meet in New York, as Schmeling arrives for visit.

This History Channel documentary is well worth watching.


Award: To give or order the giving of something as an official payment, compensation, or prize to someone; a prize or other mark of recognition given in honor of an achievement. From Anglo-Norman French awarder, variant of Old French esguarder “consider, ordain.”

Americans believe strongly that awards motivate people to perform. The College Football All-America Team is an honor given every year to the best college football players at their respective positions. The Heisman Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the outstanding player. The Lombardi award is awarded annually to the best college football lineman or linebacker.

The College Basketball All-America team is made up of those players voted the best in the country by the sports press. The Naismith Award is given to the country‘s most outstanding college player.

The Cy Young Award is given to the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, one each for the American and National League. The Most Valuable Player Award, commonly known as the MVP, is the oldest individual award.

The Academy Awards, known as the Oscars, are given annually for excellence of cinematic achievements, in more than a dozen categories. The ceremony is televised live in over 100 countries. The Grammy Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists.

Valedictorian is an academic title given to the student delivering the closing statement at a graduation ceremony. Valedictorians are typically the student with the highest academic ranking in their graduating class.

The National Honor Society recognizes high school students demonstrating excellence in the areas of scholarships, leadership, service, and character. The Phi Beta Kappa Society, an academic honor society with 280 chapters, promotes excellence in the liberal arts and sciences at the university level.

American children receive trophies for placing first, second and third in sports competition. In recent years it has become common for all participants to receive some kind recognition for participation alone, including even trophies.

Elementary school students continue to receive stickers or stars on their homework assignments – shiny, glow in the dark, big in size – in order to acknowledge good work.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor in the U.S., awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The medal is awarded by the President in the name of U.S. Congress.

October 2012. Apple CEO Tim Cook: “Apple is having another incredibly successful year, thanks to all of the hard work by you and your teams. Your focus and dedication to making the best products on earth is what makes Apple such an incredible place. To recognize the efforts that made this amazing year possible, I’m happy to announce that we’re extending the Thanksgiving holiday once again this year. We will shut down with pay on November 19, 20 and 21 so our teams can spend the whole week with their loved ones.”

Public Apologies

In America, celebrities are often considered suppliers, and their fans customers. Anytime celebrities make mistakes or behave in ways which don’t meet their fans’ expectations, they are expected to immediately issue formal apologies. Some of the more recent examples include:

Lance Armstrong – issued a public apology after admitting to using drugs to win the Tour de France seven times. Justin Bieber – issued a public apology after a video surfaced, in which the pop star told a racist joke. Reese Witherspoon – issued a public apology after being arrested for disorderly conduct.

Ask employees

In 2013 there was a lot of controversy regarding allegations of abuse against several members of the Miami Dolphins professional football team. As part of the NFL (National Football League) investigation into these claims, a report was put together analyzing the behavior of the players. This report was primarily based on emails, text messages, and more than a hundred interviews conducted with the Dolphins personnel.

In 2002 the founders of Google attempted to set up an organizational system without managers. After just a few months, however, their system fell apart. Following this, the founders decided to use the failed experiment to determine which characteristics are the most important for strong leaders.

To find these characteristics, the founders considered not only the factual details from the failed system, but they also relied heavily on such things as employee surveys and double-blind interviews.


In sports, positive feedback from your coach regarding your performance can be an important confidence booster. For professional athletes in the U.S. the way the media describes and pictures you can be almost as important to your career as your coach’s approval.

When listening to the commentator of a NBA game one will rarely hears an athlete’s performance described as fine or okay.  Some people may think that this is an inflation of words such as excellent and great.

However, the use of such words may simply reflect the quality of the league. It is unclear were the cut off is when using superlatives and if the inflationary use of words such as great, amazing, or terrific has a negative effect on the American viewer of the game. The inflationary use of superlatives might also just be a way to express more optimistic and positive views of the world for which the Americans are known for.

“Do not criticize me in front of the team”

American football. The professional league – NFL. Green Bay, Wisconsin. Cold. Very cold. The Green Bay Packers, the dominant football team of the 1960s. Their coach, Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest of all time. Their quarterback – play-maker, Spielmacher – Bart Starr.

Starr: quiet, serious, disciplined, selfless, talented, understated, fully focused on one goal only, winning. Winning championships. Starr to Lombardi: “Do not criticize me in front of the team, instead just the two of us. Otherwise I cannot lead the team.”

Listen to minutes 3:45 to 4:30