It's not hard for sports statues to go awry. For every Michael Jordan in mid-soar or Al Kaline there's at least a handful of ill-conceived, poorly executed, or just downright strange sports effigies. Sometimes it's all of the above. Sometimes you get "Vaguely Andy Murray" in terracotta armor; sometimes you get anime-action Gordie Howe and Walter Johnson; sometimes Fulham's owner decides to go off the reservation and erect a chintzy Michael Jackson statue outside his football grounds. Poor bronzework is probably the No. 1 cause of Bad Sports Statue Syndrome worldwide (Scottie Pippen, ouch), but you can't discount crazy in the equation.
Fortunately, UCLA did not suffer any of the above. On Friday, the Bruins unveiled the coup de grace of their newly renovated Pauley Pavilion: An eight-foot tall, 400-pound bronze statue of legendary coach John Wooden. As this video shows, the ceremony seemed mostly quiet, even reverent, which fits with the gently thoughtful statesmanship most of us remember about the coach's later years.
But more important than the ceremony is whether the statue is any good. Mercifully, it is. I thought UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero summed up Wooden's pose rather well:
"It really captures Coach in a pose that most remember," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. "He looks like a teacher, he looks like a coach, he looks like someone who is thoughtful and someone who can be tough."
Plus, it actually looks like Wooden, which is not to be taken for granted. Just ask Southampton fans.