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When Labatt Blue Light asked us to sponsor a post about a college basketball duo that stands out like the Blue Light Refreshment Duo, we didn't have to think very long about who would make for appropriate honorees. Given the recent passing of the legendary John Wooden, it was easy to cue up his well-documented relationship with former UCLA Bruin Bill Walton, one of the most acclaimed college basketball players of all time, and biggest fans of the Wizard of Westwood.
From 1971-1974, Walton and his floppy red-hair anchored the UCLA Bruins frontcourt, winning an astounding 86 of 90 games and two national championships, highlighted by an 88-game winning streak that will likely stand as an NCAA Men's Basketball record for generations upon generations. Wooden's approach to coaching basketball wasn't crafted around chalkboards full of Xs and Os, but around the Pyramid of Success. Consisting of seven philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life, the Pyramid of Success was the foundation to the UCLA dynasty under Wooden. To this day, Walton carries a copy in his wallet, and has ostensibly become a one-man PR firm for Wooden, promoting his teachings and spreading the gospel of arguably the most successful and esteemed coach in all of American sport.
Never at a loss for words and run-on sentences rife with glowing adjectives, perhaps Walton's most succinct assessment of the coach he adored came back in 1993, when he told the New Orleans Times Picayune:
"Just being with him for four years. No single moment was different than the next. His consistency, his demand for total effort and commitment makes him one of the most unique individuals in the history of the world."
The two parted ways in 1974, as Walton was selected as the #1 overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Draft. Wooden coached only one more season at UCLA, downing Kentucky for his 10th NCAA National Title. But the two have been forever linked, and as far as coach/player duos go, there's no better than these Bruin legends.