I guess last night gives me a new reason to get fired up about the Purple and Gold again. I am just as excited as about Jordan being the newest Laker as I was when J.J. Stokes was drafted by the Niners (in first round) to become the heir apparent of Flash 80. Let's hope it works out better for Jordan than it did for J.J. Here is the LA Times story on the newest Laker, and this comment from Laker G.M. Mitch Kupchak stood out to me:
"We know him very well. Coach [Ben] Howland and I have talked about him a lot recently. I'm very comfortable with the program, the winning atmosphere they've got at UCLA and the coach's assessment."
Well that should send a clear cut signal to elite recruits all across California and the West Coast about the kind of connections Ben Howland has to the NBA and the credibility he has with officials from it's marquee franchises. It also sends the signal how Coach Howland is always there to support his student athletes even if they decide to leave the school early. That kind of loyalty is not seen these days in college basketball - especially among elite coaches. I am sure lot of people remember Coach K's reaction when Duke guard Will Avery decided to leave early
for the NBA after having two good seasons at Duke:
The early focus of the story, written by former Sports Illustrated writer Curry Kirkpatrick, is that Blue Devil basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski had a big disagreement with Avery and his mother, Terri Simonton, in April before Avery announced he was leaving.
Reportedly, Krzyzewski used an expletive to tell Simonton that her son was going to mess up his program. She said Krzyzewski was 'rude, personal.'
'Coach K is selfish,' Simonton told ESPN The Magazine. 'He talks about a so-called close Duke family. But he just wants to protect his program. He lied to us about where William would go in the draft. Late in the first round? Maybe even second round? Come on. Even I could pick up the papers and read he was going earlier than that.'
That is a remarkable contrast from the way Howland handled Jordan's NBA aspirations. Not only it all worked out for Jordan (and hopefully the Lakers), but Howland and UCLA basketball came out looking as good as gold. I'd think recruits like Love and Singler were taking notes.