John Wooden Statue, Indianapolis, Ind. (Bill Littlefield/Only A Game)

A kneeling John Wooden is surrounded by players — well, players’ legs to be more accurate — in this sculpture in Indianapolis, Ind. (Bill Littlefield/Only A Game)

During my visit to Indianapolis on behalf of WFYI over the weekend, I came upon this statue celebrating former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s splendid career. The homage makes sense, since Wooden was born in Indiana, where basketball is taken seriously.

But does the statue itself make sense?

Tricky Choices: Honoring Athletes With Statues
In August 2012, Bill wrote a commentary titled “Sports Statues: A Sometimes-Permanent Tribute.”

When I came upon it, I couldn’t help thinking about the horrifying episode in Joseph Heller’s novel, “Catch-22,” where a pilot named McWatt miscalculates after sending his plane into a dive in order to buzz another pilot named Kid Sampson, who is standing on a raft at the time. I’ll describe the scene no further, lest readers turn away in horror.

I’m sure the statue of John Wooden, dedicated in March, isn’t meant to remind viewers of a grisly accident in the middle of a novel set in World War II, but I’m not at all sure what the statue IS meant to do.

When I returned to Boston, I showed these pictures to my colleagues at Only A Game. Unless they were humoring me, I wasn’t the only person who thought the Wooden installation was strange.