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I was in kindergarten when John Wooden won his 10th National Championship at UCLA, so I never saw a live UCLA basketball game during The Dynasty. My sports awakening occurred almost two years later, when I watched the Oakland Raiders v. Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl.
But that awakening did not include UCLA. I was a Dodgers fans, a Rams fan, an Angels fan, a Lakers fan, and a Kings fan. I was also a fan of my high school teams--our basketball program lost only four games in four years when I was in high school.
Before I was admitted to UCLA and began school in Westwood in 1987, there was no room for college athletics in my life, and neither of my parents went to “big time” colleges. Mom went to nursing school and dad went to Chico State.
That all changed on September 5, 1987.
More than three weeks before my freshman classes started, I met up with a new friend that I had met at UCLA orientation a few weeks earlier, and we watched Troy Aikman and company dismantle San Diego State at the Rose Bowl. The game was amazing. The venue was amazing. I was hooked on UCLA football, and would go on to attend most home games and roads games at Stanford (x2), Berkeley, Arizona State, and Southern Cal (x2) during my five years at UCLA. Now living in Florida, I try to see at least one UCLA football game a year. Coral Gables in 1998 (ugh), Tuscaloosa in ‘01, Boulder in ‘03, Knoxville and Austin in the Neuheisel years, Lincoln and Vegas in the Mora years. Not to mention a handful of games in the Rose Bowl. Hello Memphis next September!
UCLA Basketball took about another year. As a freshman, the hoops program was mired in mediocrity under Walt Hazzard in 87-88. The following season, in came Jim Harrick and a blue chip freshman by the name of Don MacLean. “Money” we called him because he was unstoppable from 15 feet on the baseline jumper. Among the many games I attended, the ones that stand out are the win over Louisville and Pervis Ellison and, unfortunately, the Duke loss in the 1991-1992 season. I was also there when UCLA clinched the only Pac-10 Championship when I was in school against Arizona State in 1992.
After I moved to Florida in 1996, UCLA games were harder to come by. Before the proliferation of home satellite television, where now every UCLA football and basketball game is available on TV, I had to work to be a Bruin fan. Calling ahead to sports bars to see if they’d be carrying UCLA v. Fresno State football. When games weren’t televised, more drastic measures were necessary. I specifically recall on one occasion listening to the Cory Paus led Bruins beat Arizona (I believe) on a QB roll out dive into the end zone in the wee hours of a Sunday morning on a choppy streaming audio feed via the internet.
I still watch every football game, most basketball games (sometimes the late starts are tough out on the east coast), and follow baseball and men’s and women’s soccer closely, catching games when they are on the Pac-12 Network (the ONLY reason I continue to pay out the nose for DISH Network) and also following audio feeds not on TV.
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