Photo Credit:AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian (via ESPN)
We have shared stories with each other on why we all bleed blue and gold and what those four letters mean to us. We have had a massive discussion on things we, as Bruins, hold dear to our hearts. I figure now is a good time to build out a list or have a nice thread discussing a list of our favorite Bruins of all time.
I have thought about putting together a consensus list of the greatest Bruins of all time. The more I kept thinking about it, the more realized how ridiculously difficult and herculean effort that would entail. Moreover, it is difficult to do because there are number of us who were not fortunate to watch some of the Greatest Bruins of all time in person. So I thought it would potentially be more fun as a community building effort to share with each other individualized list of our twenty favorite Bruins we each were fortunate enough to watch.
So with that in mind I am going to break this into a two part post. I will first share with you in this post list of 15 Bruins, who I consider to be among my top-20 Bruins of all time. Then in Part 2, I will share with you my 5 favorite Bruins of all time. So I will lay out a list of 15 of my top-20 Bruins (6-20) after the jump.
Note I am not ranking this list from 6 to 20. It is downright impossible. At least for me. So I am going to go ahead and list them alphabetically:
- Alfred Aboya: Again not a lot to add about PAA at this point. You should all know what PAA stands for. He was one of the prototype examples of what being a Ben Ball warrior was all about. He was all about rebounds, tough defense, providing text book example of how to hedge according to Howland's scheme. Plus he occasionally gave us highlights like this:
What was amazing about him was how he maintained his composure and class despite often being target of cheap shots (especially up in Seattle). PAA graduated from UCLA in three years. He stayed on for his fourth year pursuing a graduate degree in the school of public policy (a program that is not easy to get into). For all the future Bruin bigs, wanting to make a name for themselves in Howland's program, they should be just watching tapes of PAA (the only request being taking it a little easy on their team-mates during practices!).
- Toby Bailey: Kevin Love perhaps had the best season ever by a UCLA freshman. Yet it was Toby who captures perhaps the most incredible moment as a freshman for the UCLA basketball program. At least for me that court long pass from Ed O for that reverse dunk in Seattle, is burned in my memory drive for rest of my life.
Of course Toby had many more great moments throughout that year. I can only imagine if he was living in today's world, he might have gone pro after that magical year ending in that epic night in Seattle.
- Darren Collison: Well this history is recent. Don't think I have to recount all the great memories DC has given over the years. DC has gone on to doing some amazing things in his first year in the NBA. Yet for all his on court accomplishments what I appreciate even more from DC is how he has stayed connected with Coach Howland's program and how much he has talked up UCLA and Howland since moving on to the next level.
- Matt Darby: Guess he is the third safety in this list. That's one reason why UCLA few years ago came to be known as the "Safety U." My introduction to Darby (from Virginia) was that epic game against Nebraska in 1988. All I can remember from that game was perhaps the most vicious (legal) hit I have ever seen from a Bruin safety on an opponent receiver. You could hear that collective "ooooooooooooooooooooh" from the entire Rose Bowl when Darby laid that hit on the Nebraska receiver. He went on to have a pretty special career in Westwood and was part of perhaps the most telling moment in the history of UCLA-Southern Cal game:
The Bruins came short that day (that was the Maddox-Marinovich shootout). But Darby got his revenge the following year (1991) when the Bruins started the eight game win streak against the Trogans.
- Donnie Edwards: Donnie is the best Bruin Linebacker I have ever seen in person. Perhaps Akeem will someday get to his level but there was something special about Donnie. He was so fast and so ferocious. He could take over a game. Of course there was also the story about him getting suspended because someone left a free bag of $150 worth of groceries at his doorstep. Donnie went on to become a great pro playing with the Chiefs and Chargers. What was also special about him that he so smart that he graduated early and kept playing (like PAA did later on) while pursuing his graduate degree at UCLA.
- Danny Farmar: Danny Farmer was Cade's favorite target. He was simply MR. CLUTCH. He gave us some incredible memories during that 20 game winning streak. He made all kinds of plays all over the field. Add to that he was a great volleyball player. Simply one of the best athletes I have seen play receiver at UCLA.
- Marvin Goodwin: Marvin is another great Bruin safety I was blessed to watch in person. Perhaps nothing stick out to me more than that game saving/Rose Bowl clinching interception in the closing seconds he had against Rob Johnson at the Mosoleum. Goodwin was the next great Bruin safety following Eric Turner leading us to a Pac-10 championship. Perhaps Rahim Moore will assume that next role experiencing the same kind of results within next two years.
- Skip Hicks: Deshaun Foster was probably the most athletic Bruin RB we have had in last two decades. I think Skip Hicks is the most complete running back we have had in a Bruin uniform in the same period. Hicks was one of the cornerstones that built the foundation of that special 20 game winning streak. Yet for all his success he could have been even more special if not for an injury he suffered in his freshman year. I still remember his debut as a true freshman against Osborne's Nebraska Huskers during 1993-94 season. He was tearing up the Husker D and we were all wondering who that kid was (we weren't as well versed in freshman backs during those pre-internet days). IIRC Hicks went down that game with his injury setting him back the entire year. He came back and went on to become one of the most productive RBs in UCLA history. I used to love watching Cade connecting with Hicks on those wheel routes.
Hopefully we will see lot more plays like that in this upcoming season.
- Maurice Jones Drew: I just wish MJD had a chance to play for a competent head coach and an elite offensive coordinator such as Norm Chow. If he did he would have left UCLA with a real shot of winning the Heisman. He spent a huge chunk of his career at UCLA bailing out Karl Dorrell and Tom Cable late in the game:
Then again it has all worked out well for him as he has emerged as one of the best backs in the NFL. Just like DC you can't find a bigger Bruin fan in terms of representing the four letters than MJD. MJD is easily the best Bruin from the football program from this past (lost) decade.
- Don MacLean: He signed with Jim Harrick's UCLA program with a single mission: bring the Bruins back on top of the Pac-10 and make us a nationally relevant program following the demise under Walt Hazzard's reign. Donnie Mac lived up to it by leading the Bruins to a Pac-10 title in his senior year (91) and taking us to the Elite Eight.
What I loved about Donnie was his understanding about the Bruin basketball tradition and understanding how it important it was to get it back on track. He had an arrogance about being a Bruin (in the mold of the Big Red) and we all ate it up. Don's passion for all things UCLA now shines through during his basketball commentary. I love listening to MacLean analyzing and breaking down games because I often get the sense he is not just a former great but also a fan of the program like rest of us.
- Lorenzo Mata-Real: Just like PAA, LMR symbolized what Ben Ball warrior was being all about: being a selfless team player, focusing on defense, rebounding, fundamentals, and showing all out tenacity all over the court. He had a pretty special time as a Bruin:
LMR also showed what it meant to be a senior leader. When KL checked in as a freshman and immediately went to the starting lineup, instead of pouting about his role, LMR embraced it and embraced KL has his team-mates. We took that kind of selfless gestures for granted at the time but looking back and experiencing what we have in last two years, LMR's overtures and the way he carried himself for his four years stand out as even more special.
- Jonathan Ogden: The greatest OL I have seen play college football. No one else is close. Not in my book. What was also amazing how Jonathan how incredibly gracious and humble he was as a student athlete. Met him and talk to him while we were students and every time around the last thing he wanted to talk about was football and instead wanted to talk about school.
Ogden was the anchor of perhaps one of the greatest UCLA OL in last three decades which also featured future props such as Vaughn Parker. If you want to get a sample of Ogden's greatness just take a look at the highlights from that Rose Bowl team from 1993-94, which gave all the time in the world for Wayne Cook to find JJ, and opened up monster holes for Bruin RBs. It is amazing that the Bruins were able to get him from all the way out in DC. He lived up to all the hype in college and then went on to become one of the best ever OL in the NFL.
Luc Richard M'Bah A Moute: What's there to say except to point out the series of PLAYS against Gonzaga in those closing seconds when after the made basket he sprinted towards the other end of the court, stretched out and stripped the ball of the defender:
Just for kicks here is another vantage point:
I mean really what else is there to say about LRMAM?
- Eric Turner: ET was an amazing safety for the Bruins in the late 80s. Just like Rahim does today he would QB the defensive backfield back in the day. Not sure how many of you watched that shootout between Tommy Maddox and Todd Marinovich but if you get a chance to see that heartbreaker again (I am sure FSN will be replaying it at some point this summer) just note what happened to the Bruin defense after he had to leave with an injury. ET was the heart and soul of our defense back then and better man off the field. Rest in peace Eric.
Russell Westbrook: Another guy who doesn't need a lot of description at this point. We just have to scream "LET'S GO" and we can instantly relive all those incredible memories he gave us in two short seasons in Westwood:
Note he is the only Bruin in this list who spent just two years in Westwood. It takes a lot to become someone that special for me. RW without a doubt fits that bill.
So those are my 15 of my 20 favorite Bruins of all time. I am sure I left out number of them who would have been more deserving. Of course this list looks completely different for those who attended UCLA at a different time or started rooting for Bruins in another era.
Instead of disagreeing with what I wrote, what would be interesting for everyone is hearing from you who are your favorite Bruins? What I would suggest to you is think about who are your 5 all time favorite Bruins. Then set that list aside (save it for Part 2) and then share with us a list of 10-15 (or more) if your favorite Bruins you had opportunity to as a UCLA student, alum or fan.
So let's get to it. Start building out this thread. I will post my favorite-5 sometime next couple of days if not sooner.