FanPost

Kenny Heitz and John Vallely

I hope I didn't miss an earlier link to this story. It turns out there's a memorial service for Kenny Heitz, one of the great heroes of UCLA basketball, who died last summer of leukemia, scheduled at Royce Hall this Sunday. (I don't know what time it is - the story didn't say - but it's a public memorial.)

Although I'm old enough to have attended the first game at Pauley - the freshmen team headed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor, also had Heitz, Lucius Allen and Lynn Shackelford and demolished the varsity that had won an NCAA title the previous year - I had forgotten that John Vallely was later Heitz's teammate.

The OC Register has a storyabout both Vallely, who lost a daughter to cancer, and Heitz, the other guard on the team that defeated Coach's alma mater, Purdue, in the 1969 title game. Vallely says Heitz was the hero of that game for putting the clamps on Purdue's Rick Mount, who made only 12 of 36 shots. (Abdul-Jabbar was also on that team, of course.)

(In doing some research for this post, I found a story by Bill Dwyre of the LA Times that talked movingly of the relationship Heitz had with Abdul-Jabbar. Again, I'm sorry if Dwyre's story was previously mentioned.)

It's a bit frustrating that a picture of Heitz and Vallely on the site can't be expanded. The story says Heitz is "holding up three fingers, signifying the Bruins' third consecutive NCAA title." I'm sure many basketball fans recall that photo; I know I do.

And I have to say that while I felt the surging pride of UCLA's legacy as I read the stories, it was disheartening to compare it with the recent small-mindedness of bureaucrats who wanted to charge students $5 to attend "Pauley Madness." (Thanks, Nestor, and gbruin for leading the charge against that nonsense.)

At any rate, if you haven't seen the stories — and can get past some of the bad taste from other Times pieces — read them. You'll be glad you did.

<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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