Character on the Court

On October 14, the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden would have been 106 years old. In his last twelve years of coaching during the ‘60s and ‘70s, Wooden led UCLA’s record 88-game winning streak, captured 10 NCAA tournament championships, and ended his 29-year college head coaching career with an unprecedented 664-162 record.

Now why, you may ask, is a lawyer talking about basketball?

As a lawyer who also happens to love playing basketball, I can tell you first-hand that there’s a lot about the two that is similar. Both involve a court. Both require hours and hours of dedicated practice and preparation in order to excel, and both stir up a lot of raw emotion. There are countless rules involved in both.  The basketball player and the lawyer both seek to always put their best foot forward for their team. The innate desire to win is very present in both.   

The similarities are many. That is why I bring up the infamous John Wooden.

John Wooden had an excellent record. He was a winner. But the real legacy of John Wooden is his philosophy. Wooden lived by a creed that valued character over reputation, competency over winning. “Never try to be better than somebody else,” Wooden cautioned. “But most importantly, never cease trying to be the best you can be….Character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

As a lawyer, I also seek the win for my client. That is why I am hired. But, in preparing my clients for the courtroom, I often am in the role of coach, and like Wooden, I strive to do more for my clients than just coach them to the win. It is my hope that through the litigation “battle” my clients come through unscathed, believing in themselves more than before they started this process, and finding their inner strength of character.  That is the real “win”.

Another hope of mine is that my clients find within themselves what a true “win” really looks like for them. In a custody case, for example, often my client will come to realize that winning the day in court at the expense of ruining any chance for successful co-parenting may not be worth it. 

I am not the legendary John Wooden, but I do strive to practice law like he coached basketball. Because at the end of the day, whether in basketball or in the law, finding your strength of character outlives even the biggest winning moments.

Robert (Bob) Good has practiced law in Jackson County for 23 years, specializing in family law, estate planning and administration and business law. He also plays a lot of basketball. Contact him at his Ashland office at (541) 482-3763.