My two cents: Loving UCLA and loving basketball are two different emotions and responses that explain much of the conflict generated after each win (say, MO, Cal, and now Stanford) between those who want to celebrate each win and the BN community which largely remains unhappy.
The former love the games themselves and see every reason to enjoy each win. The BN group sees the games only through the larger matrix of what UCLA means, that is, symbolism of perfection and idealism crystallized during the Wooden years.
I was at UCLA during the Glory Days, ‘71-74, and my idea of UCLA is, like that of the BN community, framed in the larger image of "UCLA," beyond wins and losses. We love what those four letters mean; some fans just love the idea of winning a game without considering it in the larger context of the university itself.
Perhaps it’s generation thing, or perhaps it’s whether they actually attended UCLA. To the BN group, wins or losses are less important than whether the game measures up to the symbolism that UCLA represents. This difference between UCLA and the game as our focal point seems to explain why there is little or no happiness even with a 12-3 record in basketball while there is some sense of optimism or satisfaction with a 9-5 record in football.
We want basketball at UCLA to be "UCLA basketball" and feel the current regime has been slowly destroying that image in so many ways, and one spectacular win (say, over MO) hardly washes away the damages done to that "UCLA basketball" that we so love. It is sad to say that, even with the national championship, my affection for Howland would not be restored.
End of my two cents.