For those who believe in the “Team” concept instead of the “Me” attitude that has seemingly taken over modern sport, we offer these words from John Wooden, found in Wooden, by Steve Jamison.
No UCLA basketball player’s number was retired while I was coach. Later on, certain numbers were retired, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s number (33) and Bill Walton’s (32).
I was against it in both cases (and any other case) not because Kareem and Bill weren’t outstanding players, but because other fellows who played on our team also wore those numbers.
Some of those other players gave me close to everything they had, even though they aren’t as famous and perhaps didn’t have the natural gifts Kareem and Bill were blessed with.
For example, Willie Naulls wore number 33 while he was a member of our team. He worked hard, he played hard, he was an All-American. Doesn’t he have some claim to the number 33?
The jersey and the number on it never belong to just one single player, no matter how great or how big a “star” that particular player is. It goes against the whole concept of what a team is. The team is the star, never an individual player.