Individually, I'll always remember Matt Barnes as an incredibly gifted Bruin whose talents were wasted by Steve Lavin, but who still built a long NBA career.
I'll remember Ryan Hollins above all else for sinking those two huge free throws near the end of that UNBELIEVABLE Gonzaga game.
But if you mention all three of them together, you should think of the 2013 Los Angeles Clippers.
The three former Bruins have returned to Los Angeles from their ranging NBA journeys so far and have been reunited this season for the hometown Clippers. Writer Paul Feinberg highlighted the three in a great article in this month's UCLA Magazine. Barnes has been in the NBA for 11 years, Hollins for 8, and Collison for 5, and the three have combined to play on 18 teams. But this season shows that you can go home again.
Now, the three find themselves back in L.A. with the Clippers, the team some experts have picked as the best in the NBA's Western Conference. Barnes and Hollins played for the Clippers last year; Collison signed with the team during the off-season
Feinberg's article does a nice job of tracking the pro careers of the three Bruins and how their homecoming and reunion has defined their roles on this year's Clippers team.
Hollins says the group collectively focuses on defense when they enter for the starters. "We want to run the floor, change the pace of the game and push the other team in transition," Hollins says.
Barnes, Hollins, and Collison are 3 of the 12 Bruins currently playing in the NBA, but they all still share that special bond to Westwood and Coach Wooden's program. The Clipper's trio of Bruins is able to use that background to create a special chemistry on the court when they are in the game together.
Hollins says all the former UCLA players in the league share a bond and check in with each other when their paths cross. He says there is definitely chemistry between the three when they play together, and all three say there is something special about playing together in Southern California. "There's that bond you always had, whether you played together [at UCLA] or in the summer games on campus," says Collison. Barnes adds, "It's good to come back to play in my second home."
Personally, I grew up a Lakers fan watching Bruin greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes and the magic of Showtime in the 80's, but nowadays my loyalties are to the Bruins in the league more than to any one team. So that makes this year's Clippers one of my favorites. Besides that, you gotta love the blue that the three are sporting in that photo.
You can check out the article online here. It's a great read, and represents another fine piece from Feinberg who has written a ton of great pieces on Bruin Athletics for UCLA Magazine in the past. You can see his catalog here.