Bill Walton is not alone. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has also previously blasted Ben Howland and the so called line of division in UCLA basketball community couldn't be more clear today and is telling with regards to who has the best interest of the legacy of Coach Wooden's program in mind.
There is a basketball game today but no one really cares all that much at this point on what will take place on the court. Dan Guerrero and Ben Howland's program is now a toxic heap of mess, which has been called out and out on the spot by Bruin legend Bill Walton. Bill Walton - just like Kareem Abdul Jabbar - and thousands of other Bruin alums all across the nation, is disgusted with the sad state of UCLA hoops. The story has blown up in the national media.
According the conventional media narrative (which we will talk about in detail after this weekend) Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and UCLA alums in general are being unreasonable because they are judging Howland using Coach Wooden's on court accomplishments as a "reference points" (and Howland, just like Lavin advanced that baseless argument in his response to Walton yesterday). But as Kareem noted last year after the UCLA basketball program was humiliated in a story by SI.com that's not the case (HT chrissorr and BruinDan32):
It doesn't seem that Coach Wooden's wisdom has survived his passing. He was one of a kind. It will be nearly impossible to replace him, but the values he established should be foremost in the minds of those who run the UCLA program.
I know we cannot demand that Coach Howland transform himself into Coach Wooden, but Coach Wooden's ideals are a great starting point for a revival of UCLA's unique legacy.
That's right. None of us on BN are upset with Howland because he hasn't won 4 championships in a row. I don't think we have to spell out how Howland (and Guerrero) has completely wrecked a program which has missed the tourney two out of three years, posted multiple losing seasons, chased numerous talented players to other programs or early to the NBA, burned recruiting bridges all across the West Coast, and diminished the brand of an iconic program in American sports. Forget comparing Howland to Coach Wooden. Right now he is not in the same league with Coach Jim Harrick.
So yes the Big Redhead is hardly alone in his disgust and disappointment with the state of UCLA basketball. And yet there is Dan Guerrero sounding clueless and out of touch, just like he did after 0-50 when he talked about UCLA having a chance to win the Pac-12 championship:
"In all fairness, for everyone concerned, we got a lot of season left to play, and a lot to play for," Guerrero said. "This isn't really a topic that should be discussed in the media. There is nothing to report. The players will play hard, the coaches will coach hard and we'll see where we end up."
Uh yes. There is nothing to report here kids. UCLA basketball has missed the tournament two out of three years. It is limping along in a joke Pac-12 conference, out of the top-25 with "marquee" wins over overhyped programs, in a season in which it was expected to be a top-10 team, a favorite to go the Final-4, and a team angling for a protected seed in the Western region. Never mind how recruiting is in the dumps (with no point guard recruit in the horizon and Howland reputation in dumpster among high school coaches up and down the West Coast) and how Howland has continued to run players out of the program. Yes, folks Guerrero thinks there is nothing to see here.
Not just Dan interestingly the LA Times pointed out how Howland was getting "a pat on the back" from Mark Harlan, Dan Guerrero's right hand man at Morgan Center. Chris Foster left out the detail about Harland being an Arizona graduate, which poses the question whether an alum from a rival school, which has always hated UCLA basketball really has the best interest of Coach Wooden's program in mind.
Anyway at this point Guerrero and Howland's program is nothing more than a national freak show or as some observers have put it - a "flaming bag of poo."
So there is a game today at Pauley where the Bruins will continue to "chase" the Pac-12 title by taking on the powerhouse Washington State program which is rolling into Pauley with a record of 11-12, 2-8. For those who really want to get into strategery of this exciting game head over to ESPNLA to get the scouting report from Peter "Talking Points" Yoon or get a more thorough breakdown from Robert Carpentier of Bruin Report Online as his preview is not behind subscription firewall.
I am sure there is going to be a "blue out" of empty seats inside the PUG, where folks are going to feeling the electricity of another edition of scintillating basketball from North Carolina's JV program. Perhaps the excitement is going to be around reading Shabazz's body language in case the Bruin find themselves being in a position of having to pull out another "exciting" and "heart stopping" win.
BTW re. Shabazz's body language ... MEH. At the time it happened I have to say I thought it was kind of weird. And I didn't really care all that much about his explanation and awkward spin from Howland. But that said, he is still just a kid. I can't blame him or other freshmen in this program for being absolutely miserable.
It's not that easy to get excited about playing ugly, unwatchable basketball in a program where the coach stubbornly keeps trying to fit round peg in square holes by keep calling plays for pet players. I can't blame Shabazz or anyone in this program just going through the motions and counting the days till he is gone to the NBA or away from Howland (and Guerrero). We are all doing the same.
We are all counting the days except for fiddling Guerrero, his right hand man who is an Arizona basketball alum, few Howlers, and Howland - who should have been fired long time again. The line of demarcation when it comes to UCLA basketball couldn't be more clear.
What has happened to Coach Wooden's program is telling. Howland used to talk up about his role as the "caretaker" of Coach's program. Instead of taking care he has burned it down and now is defending himself with the help of out of touch bureaucrats, who don't seem to have any real interest in preserving the true legacy of Coach Wooden's program. Shame on them for burning down Coach Wooden's house.