When UCLA Ruled College Basketball
Southern California in the 1960's- sun, surf, beach and of course, UCLA basketball.
The Bruins go back to 1919 yet it was only during a brief period in 1964-75 that they forged UCLA’s legacy as the winningest NCAA Division I men’s basketball team.
Under the stewardship of legendary coach John Wooden, the school’s basketball squad ruled the court, racking up ten national titles in twelve consecutive seasons.
Wooden joined UCLA in 1948, toting his “pyramid of success” philosophy to a team that had only known two conference victories in almost a generation. The first year saw him turn the Bruins’ losing record of 12-13 to 22-7, laying the groundwork for an unprecedented 27 uninterrupted winning seasons under his tenure.
The first championship came in 1964, closing out a perfect 30-0 season. UCLA faced Duke at the Final and took down the Blue Devils 98-83. Junior Gail Goodrich led with 27 points and senior Walt Hazzard took home the MVP; both were later drafted by the LA Lakers.
The second national crown came in 1965 with Goodrich netting a then record 42 points to upend Michigan 91-80.
Post 1964, UCLA rode another three perfect seasons in 1967, 1972 and 1973. Central to Wooden’s coaching tenet were 25 behavioral traits he identified as cornerstones to competitive success.
Fundamental game skills was just one. The rest were qualitative measures transcending sports and touching on life in general: industriousness, initiative, enthusiasm, cooperation, patience, etc.
1966 introduced another future Laker to the Bruins lineup, sophomore Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The imposing 7’1” center helped guide the California school to three straight NCAA championships: 1967 (Dayton), 1968 (North Carolina) and 1969 (Purdue).
Alcindor’s dominance could only be matched by the MVP awards he earned after each tournament. At the end of his college career, his superstar legacy would be marked by more than just points and rebounds. Jabbar's towering presence under the net led the NCAA to ban the slam dunk until it was reinstated in 1976.
Junior Sidney Wicks picked up where Jabbar left off, clinching the MVP in 1970 after UCLA defeated Jacksonville for the trophy. Wicks helped overtake Villanova at the 1971 Final before joining the Portland Trail Blazers.
With sophomore Bill Walton on the Bruins' 1972 roster, UCLA was on its way to a record 88-game winning streak. That season, UCLA averaged over 30-point winning margins and overcame Florida State at the championship. Memphis State succumbed the following year as the 6’11” Walton landed 21 of 22 field goal attempts and scored 44 points to claim the title.
After defeating Kentucky in 1975, Wooden retired with a UCLA career record of 620-147 (81%). Regarded by many as the greatest coach of all time, the dynasty he created and the players he inspired remain unmatched in the annals of college basketball.
BASEBALL July 13, 2010 The NL beat the AL 3-1 in the All-Stars exhibition game. Held at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in California, the game was preceded with a short memorial honoring George Steinbrenner who had died early that morning. The AL fielded the likes of Derek Jeter (SS-Yankees), Ichiro Suzuki (OF-Mariners) and Mariano Rivera (P-Yankees), while the AL brought out David Wright (3B-Mets), Albert Pujols (1B-Cardinals) and Roy Halladay (P-Phillies).
SOCCER July 2, 2000 France defeats Italy 2-1 at the UEFA European Championship. It was their 2nd title at the quadrennial extravaganza, which has been held since 1960 to determine the continent’s best national team; Germany and Spain are tied at the top with 3 wins each. One of the most exciting finals in tournament history, France equalized a goal in the closing minute of official time to send the game into overtime and then land a ‘golden goal’ in sudden death.
TENNIS July 7, 1990 Martina Navratilova claims a record 9th Wimbledon singles title after defeating her American opponent, Zina Garrison, 6-4, 6-1. It was Navratilova’s last career grand slam singles after compiling 17 victories since her first one at Wimbledon in 1978. Considered one of the greatest female athletes in the game, the Czech-born and U.S.-naturalized tennis star was ranked No. 1 in singles for a total of 332 weeks, and No. 1 in doubles for a total 237 weeks.
BOXING July 7, 1980 Larry Holmes knocks out Scott LeDoux in the 7th round to retain his WBC Heavyweight title. It was the 35th professional and undefeated bout for the Georgia native who swung one of the fiercest left jabs in boxing history. Holmes battled the greatest heavyweights of his era and he would defeat Muhammad Ali in the 10th round just 3 months after his encounter with LeDoux. The “Easton Assassin” retired in 2002 after posting a career record of 75-69-6.