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dukemsu
03-26-2007, 10:10 PM
Just caught the UCLA Dynasty special on HBO. Some thoughts:

-From a Duke perspective, some background on the UCLA Team, Wooden's first National title team that beat the favored Devils.

-LOTS of Bill Walton. Not footage of him playing, but footage of him speaking. Depending on your opinion/tolerance of the big redhead, either a good or very bad thing.

-Some background on Sam Gilbert, the guy Digger Phelps always brings up as the real reason UCLA got all the great players. Gilbert was the alleged "sugar daddy" of UCLA basketball who was banned from Pauley and the program after the Wooden run. Interesting stuff.

-Thankfully, limited amounts of Digger recounting the one thing that saved his job in his incredibly overrated run at ND, the Irish's streak-busting win over UCLA in 1974. You can almost see his eyes about to pop out of his head when he's telling the story of having his kids practice cutting down the nets.

-Overall, a good history lesson on the overall impact/dominance of UCLA. Mostly reminded me of how impossible a run of titles like that would be now.
A bit too much deification of Coach Wooden for my taste, but the guy obviously was/is a legend. A bit schmaltzy, but worth watching.

-One strange thing-no interviews (recent) from Abdul-Jabbar. You'd have to wonder why he wouldn't have participated. Lots of footage of his dominance, and some very interesting interviews with a college-age Alcindor about social issues. You won't likely find many athletes on any level these days with that sort of introspection.

dukemsu

dkbaseball
03-27-2007, 07:22 AM
Watching his last team (which probably wasn't among his top six) practice and play at Maryland in '74 was easily the biggest thrill I've had watching sports. They were different and it was very noticeable. The way the players carried themselves, including the last man on the bench. The obvious superior conditioning. The efficiency with which he ran practice. The gear they could reach for when they needed a defensive stop. It was thrilling and uplifting.

I wouldn't read anything into Kareem's non-participation. He regularly contributes encomiums for Wooden and the program to the collections of Wooden wisdom that seem to be published now at the rate of about two a year. Amusingly, these books are often pitched to the business community. I'm sure salesmen and such can benefit from the bromides, but Wooden was the last guy to be concerned about making a buck. I don't think his salary at UCLA was ever more than $35,000, and there were no sneaker deals in those days. His heirs are probably on him to capitalize on his market value while he can. And more power to them. I can't get enough of the schmaltz. Own about five of the books, including Practical Modern Basketball, and still carry around his Pyramid of Success. At 96, the guy's mind is still sharp, and he is, as Walton often says, a national treasure.