I came across a post here (DCBruins ) making a good point about how John Wooden's different championship teams were built differently around changing personnel. But then I was frankly dismayed to see him describe the Wicks-Rowe-Patterson teams (1970,1971) as "had a stiff at Center and was led by Sidney Wicks , a Power Forward".
So the late Steve Patterson was a "stiff"? The same Steve Patterson who averaged 12.9 points and 10 rebounds a game and was known as an outstanding defender? The same Steve Patterson who in a very close national championship game against Villanova and Howard Porter in 1971 scored a game high 29 points on 13 of 18 shooting (that's 72%) including 20 in the first half and was picked to the all tournament team? And many of those were on long baseline jumpers that would have been 3's today. With today's 3 pt. shot he would have scored more like 35. He also had 8 rebounds and 4 assists in that game his last as a UCLA Bruin. It was one of the greatest clutch performances ever by a UCLA player in a national championship game.
I was in the same UCLA class as Steve Patterson, so I saw him play throughout my time at UCLA. He was the star of the freshman team and later was a key component on the Wicks-Rowe teams. After Lew Alcindor graduated nobody expected UCLA to win the national championship again, but they did for the next two years. And Steve Patterson was one of the key reasons why. He had a great outside shot for a big man and probably along with Kevin Love was the best outside shooting center to ever play at UCLA. I was at the game in 1971 at Pauley against SC (who had Paul Westphal) which was a game between the two top teams in the nation for the conference championship and to determine the sole conference representative to the NCAA tournament. And Steve Patterson helped tear up SC with his outside shooting and rebounding as the Bruins blew the Trojans out of the gym with a 20-6 run to open the game.
One thing I know for sure is that without Steve Patterson's great 29 point performance in a very close national championship game against Villanova there would be one less championship banner hanging today in Pauley. And almost for sure there would be two less banners, because both years those teams were built around the great front line of Wicks, Rowe, and Patterson, and UCLA almost undoubtedly would not have won any NCAA championships without all three of them. In those two years with that great front line the Bruins were 57-3 with two national championships. I thank my lucky stars that I was fortunate enough to have been there. And whoever referred to Steve Patterson in this way doesn't know their UCLA basketball history, couldn't possibly have ever seen him play, and was disrespectful to the memory of a great UCLA basketball player.
(Look at the inspiring video "Intergalactic Treasure" on Coach Wooden and at the beginning at :23 you'll see number 32 Steve Patterson along with the rest of the great UCLA national championship team of 1970: Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Henry Bibby, and John Vallely.)