FanPost

A Bruin Alum Rips Apart Wetzel's (YahooSports) Hit Piece on Wooden

From the diaries. A Bruin alum fires back on behalf of the Bruin basketball community. -N

UPDATED 4:06 pm EST:Thanks to BN for promoting this diary. As Nestor pointed out in the comment thread if any of you have a direct email address for any of the editor at Yahoo sports, please post it in the thread, and I will incorporate in this post. You can also send additional feedback to YahooSports beside Wetzel by clicking here.

I already posted how some Bruin fans have exposed Dan Wetzel as a Wooden hating hack, who was basically a toady of Tarkenion. Now another Bruin fan, who posts on BRO as the Canandian, has sent Wetzel the following letter destroying Wetzel's hack job on Coach Wooden. Here is his letter:

Dear Mr. Wetzel:

As a UCLA fan, I was alarmed by your April 2 column, concerning alleged statements that Bill Walton made in a book concerning improprieties in UCLA's basketball program during John Wooden's tenure. In a follow-up on April 5, you wrote to a reader, "You don't think those comments by Walton were, at the very least, worthy of reprinting? When I first read them last year, I couldn't believe they weren't better known. Seriously, Bill Walton said that, if investigated, UCLA would have to give up seven NCAA titles and go on probation for 100 years. Sorry, but that's worth cribbing."

I ordered a copy of the book, "On the Road with the Portland Trail Blazers," used copies of which are readily available on Amazon.com. I assume you will be surprised to learn (and will immediately inform your readers) that your characterization of Walton's comments is completely false.

First, you stated in your April 2 column that the book was written by Walton ("Those quotes come from none other than Bill Walton, maybe the greatest Bruin of them all, in his 1978 book `On the Road with the Portland Trailblazers'"). This is false. The book was written by Jack Scott. In the Author's Note, Scott wrote: "Bill never asked to read even one page of the manuscript - never mind the entire manuscript - before it went to the printer. Consequently, I am solely responsible for the book's content. You should not automatically assume that Bill agrees with all of the opinions I express throughout the book..."

Second, you quoted Walton as saying (or writing), "If the UCLA teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s were subjected to the kind of scrutiny (other schools) have been, UCLA would probably have to forfeit about eight national championships and be on probation for the next 100 years." This, too, is false. This was the author, Scott's, statement, not Walton's (page 215).

Moreover, the insertion of the parenthetical statement "(other schools)" is misleading. The actual words Scott wrote (which you replaced with "(other schools)" was "Jerry Tarkanian and his players." Scott was defending Tarkanian, with whom Scott identified for obvious reasons: Scott was a former athletic director at Oberlin College, which, he wrote in "On the Road," the NCAA "put under intensive investigation for illegal recruiting while I was the athletic director" (page 215). A quick Google search reveals that in a 2000 obituary on the Oberlin College website, Scott is described as "a renowned critic of organized athletics [who] took every opportunity to lash out against the financial exploitation of collegiate and professional athletes, arguing that sporting events should cater to the needs of participants rather than owners, advertisers and spectators."

Had you correctly attributed this seemingly damning quote to Scott, rather than incorrectly to Walton, you might also have thought it appropriate to inform your readers about Scott's background, to which much of his book was devoted. Scott was a writer for the radical 1960's magazine Ramparts, and was closely associated with the Symbionese Liberation Army. Extended portions of the book detail Scott's refusal to cooperate with the FBI as that agency (which he accused of "crimes and killings," see Introduction, page xvii) "harassed" him and his family for years merely because he harbored his fugitive friends, SLA members Patty Hearst and Bill and Emily Harris, for six months. Your readers might have been interested in examining the merit of Scott's opinions of Sam Gilbert and Jerry Tarkanian in the context of his opinions of the FBI and SLA.

The only conceivably damning quote in your article that Scott actually attributes to Walton was Walton's alleged statement to Scott that "It's hard for me to have a proper perspective on financial matters, since I've always had whatever I wanted since I enrolled at UCLA" (page 212). However, Scott's book (unlike your article) at least put this alleged quote in context - it comes immediately after Scott's explanation that it was easy for Walton to stay at UCLA for four years and resist turning pro because "he came from a comfortable middle-class background." Even as presented by Scott, it appears that Scott and Walton were discussing Walton's privileged background, not largesse from Gilbert. Of course, Scott, who barely disguised his anti-Gilbert agenda throughout the book, is content to let the reader draw the more nefarious conclusion.

Perhaps due to his political viewpoint, his own anger at being under "intensive investigation" by the NCAA, and/or Walton's firing of Gilbert as his advisor at about the time the book was written (pages 168-69), Scott used Gilbert as a whipping boy whenever Gilbert came into play. He implied, without evidence, that Gilbert had mob connections (page 213) and made unsupported but provocative statements such as "[h]is critics have questioned how someone who does so much for free could also be a self-made millionaire" (id.). This is typical of Scott's "journalism," in which, for example, he suggests without evidence that NBA referees are on the take (page 68) and accuses Trail Blazers coach Jack Ramsey of racism based on unsourced innuendo and despite Walton's admiration for Ramsey (page 115). Scott also excused Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from publicly accusing Walton of marijuana use by writing that "Kareem explained that it was Sam Gilbert who told him this story about Bill" (page 211).

Yet even with his undisguised bias and politically charged point of view, Scott ultimately wrote that "Bill and I doubt John Wooden was aware of the `support' his star players regularly received, and these revelations should not detract from his brilliant coaching record" (page 215).

The bottom line is that Jack Scott - a radical sportswriter and rogue athletic director, closely associated with the murderous SLA - is the person who provided the "money quote" on which your article was based, not Bill Walton. I think you would be doing your readers (as well as journalism) a disservice if you fail to correct the falsehoods on which your article was based

And remember how ManPundit wasted no time embracing Wetzel's article even though he lies like a little piece of shit saying he has no agenda shilling for the Trojans while hating on Bruins. Asshole.

And speaking of assholes ... you can send in your 2 cents to Mr. Wetzel by clicking right here.

Go Bruins!!!

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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