There will be absolutely no apology for the harsh criticisms directed towards the students for their boneheaded decision to rush the court. I also don't find the arguments in support of that (spontaneous) decision convincing. That said bumping up this post because I do appreciate the students being passionate about our sports team. I just hope they channel that passion to ensure that they also demand accountability when our teams are not doing what they can to play up the standards of UCLA in a consistent basis. GO BRUINS. -N
I'm not sure if I should even be posting this because frankly the issue needs to go away, but I also think that it has been blown way out of proportion and a lot of the views expressed here have reflected poorly on this community. I am talking about the attempted storming of the court last night against Washington. I am in the corner that it was utterly stupid and yet completely justified at the same time (hear me out and this will make more sense). I have also seen some great comments defending the Den's actions, and I wanted to organize them all into one place.
I will start with full disclosure by saying that when it happened I was one of the people that sort of half rushed it. Of course, when I saw police flying at me, I quickly did an about face and spent the rest of the melee pushing people back towards the sideline. Needless to say reality set in at that moment, and I realized that rushing the court against an underachieving Washington team was stupid. In fact, I'm sure that everyone who did so looks back today and is saying the same thing, "What was I thinking, we're UCLA."
This brings me to my first point: Rushing the court is spontaneous. As always Fox presented the case well:
If you plan it, it's wrong. If it's purely spontaneous, you really can't help it. My instinct on things like that is to jump. If the den’s instinct is different, then so be it. Planning it sounds a lot like the things going on with all the student movements (not CTS’s movements) in the years of student unrest where you would see a printed handbill announcing the spontaneous demonstration that was going to be held as such and such a place and time.
More after the jump...Everyone here knows and has experienced the reason sports are both wonderful and painful--emotion. Last night was a very emotional shot and a very emotional win, and when something like that happens no one is thinking about championship banners or opponent's ranking. There is simply an overwhelming energy that needs to be released, and believe me given the nature of the shot and the fact that the entire team was going nuts right there in front of us, jumping up and down would not have sufficed.
The next point that I want to touch on is this: We hang national championship banners, but we don't celebrate them.
At least not in today's day and age. The Final Four is held in some massive football stadium, and the regionals are played on a court that we do not own, so really we cannot storm the court when it is most warranted. This leaves only #1 upsets or Pac-10 championships. #1 teams playing in Pauley, much less us beating them, is rare. With regards to Pac-10 titles, Nestor had this to say:
We rushed the court twice n Pauley:
Freshman year (91): beating Arizona to win the Pac-10 championship
Senior Year (95): beating Oregon to win the Pac-10 championship and also celebrating Ed O and Ty’s last game at Pauley
That's all well and good, but remember that we won 3 straight PAC-10 championships from 06-08, and not once did we rush the court when it became a done deal. Now, I'm too young to remember the circumstances surrounding N's championships, but I'm guessing that the reasons the court was stormed then and not now was because those were very emotional battles. During our recent run, it was clear that we were the better team, and everyone knew that our work was not done. Why get excited about a Pac-10 title when a Final Four was expected that year? This shows that the motivation to rush the court lies not in what's on the line, but what that victory means to the team. The Washington game was our Waterloo, and likely the last chance we students had to really celebrate this season.
Ok, 2 points down, 2 to go. The next one concerns Moustafa: It was MAH and not the win that made it so special.
I think this is partially true. Yoyo says:
As a Den student who watched from the second row of the middle section, I believe that the group of that students that tried to rush the floor did because it was Mustafa who made the shot, as opposed to someone else.
Someone else in the comments thread (forgive me for not giving you proper due, I just can seem to find the comment) said something along the lines of if the game had ended with Washington missing or Drago hitting the game winner, students would probably not have rushed. I agree with this. Everyone knows MAH's story, and that him hitting the game winner was almost a fairy tale. I think that it was just a perfect storm of bad season, close and exciting game, big shot, and Moustafa that led to us rushing. Take away one of those elements, and it probably doesn't happen.
Lastly, I want to say this: Let the students be students.
Nestor and his class got to rush the court twice during his time at UCLA. That's twice more than almost every other student who has ever attended a game. It is rare to be able to do so, and a lot of moments have passed that would have caused pandemonium at a less traditional school. It's easy to be a fan when we're winning, but frankly being a UCLA fan right now is possibly harder than at any point in the last 60 years. It takes some serious meddle to show up game after game in both football and basketball, knowing that disappointment is more likely than not. Additionally, those of us that still make that commitment often get railed on this site and others for the overall lack of student support. LET US HAVE OUR MOMENT! Everyone has those UCLA memories that stick forever. Unfortunately, ours just aren't worth glorifying on a national level. That's fine, but don't belittle our moments just because yours made the front page of SI. The ever erudite Achilles perfectly sums up this and everything else i have said best (and of course in much fewer words):
Rushing the court, to me, is by its very nature a spontaneous act. The moment one plans for it or considers it in advance, one creates an utterly contrived occurrence and renders any value rushing the court — if there is a value — moot. The very notion that there should be a set of rules governing what should by definition be a spur-of-the-moment event strikes me as, quite frankly, a bit ridiculous.
My feeling is that the team, made up of players, belongs mostly to the students. Those are their peers on the court, their friends and classmates playing the game. If they choose to run out on the court to embrace one of their own, a fellow student who just so happens to embody a particularly joyous collegiate sports archetype (the hard working walk-on who finally gets his one moment to shine) then so be it. As an alumnus from the distant past, I feel I have no more right to tell today’s students how to celebrate than I do trying to convince them that the classic rock of the 70s I grew up listening to is more culturally important than the hip hop or pop that defines their generation.
When Mustafa Abdul-Hamid hit that shot I swear I literally jumped up off my coach and ran part way across my living room. Had I been in the front row at Pauley, I probably would have run half way across the court myself.
I realize my opinion is in the minority. Even as I’m writing this I see new posts joining this thread that echo the comments of the “OP.” That’s fine. I don’t care. I wanted to express my opinion anyway.
My message to the current students is this: Enjoy your time at UCLA. Have fun and don’t let the “remember when we were great” crowd inhibit your good time. If you don’t want to rush the court, that’s fine — but don’t rush it because you don’t want to rush it, not because of someone else’s sense of nostalgia.
I just want to end with one more thing. Legacies, especially ones as large as Coach Wooden's, are meant to be honored, celebrated, and referenced heavily. However, they are not to be used to evaluate today's teams. That is how good coaches get fired and fan bases become delusional (see Notre Dame for both). Coach Wooden once said:
Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.
If this team, or any Bruin team past or present, is to be criticized, it is on this basis and not on the basis of Coach's accomplishments. I do not think that this team has played to their ability this season, that is until last night. I tried to pick a player of the game in my mind, but couldn't do it. Were Reeves's clutch baskets more important that Honeycutt's rebounds? And does one big shot by a former walk on make him POG by disregarding all of the other player's efforts that led up to that moment? For the first time in a long time, every Bruin gave it his all for a full 40 minutes, and we won in a true team effort. For one wonderful night, this team achieved success because each and everyone of them (even Drago) played to the best of his abilities. That is what we were celebrating by rushing the court last night, and as a result did not disrespect Wooden's legacy, but actually honored it. We students could not have been more proud of our team, and I'm sure Coach felt exactly the same way.
Anyways I just wanted to get all of that off my chest. Now let's just move on to Saturday's tough match-up and see if last night's victory truly was the turning point we have been looking for.