The (Red) Hottest Tickets in Town
Hollywood is known for its stars, but the sheer luminosity in the Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night for top-ranked Arizona’s visit to UCLA was surprising.
Here was former Los Angeles Lakers coach, and 11-time NBA champion, Phil Jackson, seated next to actor John Lithgow, of “Third Rock From the Sun” fame. There was Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, possibly to scout future prospects, as was Lakers (and former Suns) guard Steve Nash.
Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears tweeted that there were “45 NBA credentialed personnel” at the game, including multiple general managers, including the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak and Trail Blazers’ Neil Olshey.
Several prominent former Wildcats were in attendance, including Gilbert Arenas and Miles Simon, as was Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker and ex-UCLA players Baron Davis and Jordan Farmar.
Even Thursday’s National Anthem had a star-studded feel to it: Red Hot Chili Peppers bass guitarist Flea handled it.
No word yet if Anthony Kiedis served as assistant coach for the Bruins.
Arizona had a sizable contingent at Pauley Pavilion – mostly on the upper levels – but their collective noise was noticeable.
Particularly midway through the second half, when T.J. McConnell took a charge from UCLA guard Jordan Adams with the Wildcats up 53-48.
The Quarterback’s back
Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley addressed the UCLA crowd at the 11:04 mark of the first half to loud applause and a standing ovation.
“You made a lot of Bruin fans happy when you announced you were coming back this season,” the Pauley Pavilion announcer said.
“We have a great team, I wanted to come back to bring that national championship back to UCLA,” said Hundley, who should be a Heisman contender entering his redshirt junior season.
UCLA legend Bill Walton called the game for ESPN and drew wide criticism from Bruins fans on Twitter for his surprisingly anti-alma mater sentiment. Walton was ultra-critical of Ben Howland last season on broadcasts, and he’s continued sharing his opinion on the matter this season.
That didn’t stop UCLA fans at Pauley Pavilion from cheering loudly for him when he was shown on the video board.
Walton, who said this may be Arizona’s best team ever, wasn’t all kind to the Wildcats, though, saying that former Arizona guard Gilbert Arenas had “lost his mind!”
No tears for you
One of the biggest cheers of the night was from UCLA fans, reacting to the sad, sad tears of Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison during a replay of the 2005-06 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, when the Bruins knocked off the Bulldogs with a late rally.
22 Nick Johnson has come up big time and time again for the Wildcats this year, but his total of 22 points Thursday night might have been his biggest of the year.
Tweet of the Night
“Love hearing the @UofA chants all the way in Maui! #BearDown” — @iKick_ (Arizona kicker Jake Smith)