You can see from the pictures how the chairs were carefully arranged so that they did not cover the words, "Nell and John Wooden Court." During the service, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero also announced that Wooden's customary seat in Pauley Pavilion -- Section 103B, Row 2, Seat 1 -- would be retired. No one is going to sit there again, a decision that everyone rightly cheered. It was a beautiful ceremony as reflected in this touching fanpost. bruin805 posted a copy of program.
BUT there is one detail that is going to stick out for a while. The attendance even by the official estimate was around 4,000, which meant thousands and thousands of Bruin alums stayed home or did something else. Somehow the alums couldn't find enough time for Coach compared to a Trojan. Yes, the official site has a wonderful post about yesterday's service, which includes touching tribute in the toplines from a Trojan fan:
Laine (Gary Laine), in particular, stood out in USC apparel, but he explained that although he grew up a Trojan fan, he was also one-tenth Bruin because he completed his dental residency at UCLA.
"I'm here for Coach Wooden. He's been one of my heroes since I grew up [in Arcadia] in the '50s," Laine said. "My high school basketball team ran his zone defense; I read most of his books; I even had a chance to meet him. He's just a remarkable human being and one you'd want to pattern your life after. So there's that cross-town rivalry, but I came all the way from San Jose to be here today. It's very special."
Laine might be a Trojan fan but he certainly showed lot more devotion to Coach than the thousands of UCLA alums in Southern California area who decided to stay home. Laine was not the only non Bruin who showed up to pay respect to Coach in the house he built.
"It was nice," Torre said. "I didn't get there until about 10 minutes to 10, and it started at 11. They had a video of all of his UCLA teams from 9-10, and then played all the music he liked from 10-11. Then his next-door neighbor played an Irish number [on the guitar and sang]. And then Al Michaels made a little speech before the invocation.
"There were a number of taped and live speeches. Vin Scully spoke, but that was after I left. It was good."
Torree was not alone. Derek Jeter (one of Coach Wooden's favorite player in the game) and Mike Sciocia took the time to drive to Westwood and show up for Coach. Even Lute Olson and Steve Lavin showed up to pay respect to Coach, and yet thousands of UCLA alums were perhaps too inconvenienced to spend a Sunday morning in Westwood reflecting on what Coach meant for our University.
The official site listed all of Bruin legends showing up to remember Coach:
Coach Wooden's former players in the audience included Bill Walton, George Stanich, Ralph Drollinger, Marques Johnson, Andre McCarter, Dave Meyers, Jim Spillane, Raymond Townsend, Pete Trgovich, Walt Hazzard, Gail Goodrich, Jack Hirsch, Henry Bibby, Willie Naulls, Sidney Wicks, Swen Nater, Larry Farmer and Rafer Johnson.
Numerous post-Coach Wooden Era players were also in attendance at the memorial service, including Earl Watson, Russell Westbrook, Jack Haley, Brad Wright, Ray Young, Matt Barnes, Kevin Love, Kris and Josiah Johnson, Rod Foster, Alfred Aboya, Lorenzo Mata and Tyus Edney.
You can read the whole write up from Wendy Soderburg which includes a beautiful photo gallery here. You can also check all the wire photos by clicking on the more photos link right at the top of this post. There is also the writeups from the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News, and the OC Register.
Our thanks go out to all the BNers who took time out to go down to campus yesterday. Suffice to say it is also deeply disappointing to see the empty seats in Pauley in an event dedicated to Coach. The excuses about UCLA needed to do a better job to promote this event kind of ring hollow. This was known for weeks. There were reminders coming out 48 hours before Saturday. Unless there was an incredible family emergency, medical reasons, or prescheduled travels, there is no excuse for the kind of showing we had UCLA alums had at Pauley yesterday.
On this blog we have come down hard on students before for not showing their Bruin spirit. In this case, this was on us and there are no excuses.
We are sorry Coach.