When Big Red speaks, people listen.
So that's why Bill Walton's comments last night before the UCLA Cal basketball game are so meaningful. In a season that sees the U.C.L.A. Basketball program struggling to be a middle of the road team in the Pac-12 Conference and in a game that the Bruins have to win to have any hope for an NCAA Tournament bid, Walton's words tell you all you need to know about the current state and leadership of the Bruins Basketball program.
Instead of being in his alma mater's locker room and telling the current Bruins about the proud tradition of Bruin Basketball and the revered teachings of John Wooden and the meaning of playing for the 4 letters on the front of the jersey, Walton was instead talking to the Cal Berkeley players.
California raced out to a 13-1 start behind a pair of 3-pointers from Brown following a pregame pep talk from ESPN analyst Bill Walton and strong defense that forced UCLA to miss its first five shots and commit three turnovers before Hamilton made a floater to end the drought.
''He gives the best motivational speeches I've ever heard,'' Brown said. ''He just got me so pumped up for the game I think I came out and scored eight in a row. It was all Bill Walton right there.''
That's our Big Red treasure at U.C.L.A.'s last gasp of hope, talking to the opposing team.
And I don't fault Walton one bit.
Bill Walton is as devoted as anyone ever to the ideals of Wooden and what U.C.L.A. Basketball is really about. He has never wavered in his devotion to this. He has an autobiography coming out in a few weeks. I've been fortunate enough to read it and there is no doubt about his love for Coach and U.C.L.A. and the ideals that go along with that legacy
So for him to be giving strength to an opponent when the Bruins desperately need a win, it tells me even all about the current state of Bruin Basketball and it's "leadership" under Steve Alford. It tells me the current state is not representative of that legacy. And Bill is not going to be such a blind supporter of the program to let that failure go unchallenged.
When the program's greatest defender and advocate is helping your opponent, something is terribly wrong.
PostScript: I don't know if ironic is the right word, but I find it particularly poignant that when Lavin was running our program into the ground, the Big Red Head allowed his son Luke to go play for Lute Olsen and the Wildcats. And, now in the midst of Lavin 2.0; we have this latest defection of sorts. ~Mexi