WESTWOOD—There’s names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, and Reggie Miller of seasons long past. Then there’s current stars, men like Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Darren Collison. Heck, even Shabazz Muhammad, Travis Wear, and Zach LaVine are doing all right for themselves.
Then, you’ve got the boys wearing blue and gold in 2015, a team that’s 8-7, last-place in its conference, and worst of all, has lost five consecutive games by a combined score of 359-263.
No, that’s not a typo. Perhaps the most prestigious college basketball program in history is not only losing, but losing horrifically. And while it may be difficult to concretely identify just where UCLA’s rock-bottom lies, it might just be Sunday’s 71-39 dismantling at the hands of conference foe Utah.
Recently renovated Pauley Pavilion, once a crown jewel of Los Angeles sports, resembles a ghost town. Student interest in the basketball team is practically zero. Students would rather watch Sportscenter from the warmth of their dorm rooms in Rieber Hall and Sproul Cove then walk five minutes to Pauley Pavillion to see a live, division-one basketball game.
Things are broken and UCLA can no longer point to being an NBA factory as a claim to fame. Most UCLA students can name at least three current football players. Don’t ask them to do the same for their basketball team.
The school has witnessed the resurrection of a once-mighty football program. The same may happen for UCLA basketball. But first, everything must be torn down and rebuilt.
Then, and only then, the stands of Pauley will flood with a sea of blue and gold.