Forum and Powder Blue

Gatinho —  March 22, 2008

“When the Lakers arrived in Los Angeles in 1960 basketball was very much an unknown factor in the city’s sport’s psyche.”

-Roland Lazenby

Over the past 40 plus years the combination of Bruin and Laker basketball has brought the game from a single paragraph in the back page of the Times to the most viewed articles on its website.

The first Bruin drafted by the Lakers was John Green in 1962.

In 1964 the legacies of these institutions would continue their interweaving. That year the Lakers drafted Walt Hazzard from John Wooden’s first UCLA National Championship team. The Lakers used their then territorial rights, which were designed “…to take advantage of the regional popularity of college stars…Teams were given the option of forfeiting their first-round pick and instead selecting, before the start of the draft, a player from the franchise’s immediate geographical area.”

Things wouldn’t work out for Hazzard as a Laker because some guys named Jerry West and Elgin Baylor were already there .

“Getting drafted by the Lakers did him a disservice in some respects. At another place he would have gotten an opportunity to play.” -Jerry West

But Hazzard would return as coach of UCLA in 1984-85 winning 77 games and losing 48.

In 1965 the Lakers would pick another luminous UCLA guard, and he would become the smallest player to have his jersey hanging from the rafters. Gail Goodrich scored 42 points in the 1965 NCAA final as UCLA beat favored Michigan State. As a Laker he would become an All-star, win a championship, and average almost 24 points game.

As UCLA would reach national prominence, and the Lakers were continually making their annual trip to the Finals to be beaten by the Celtics, Los Angeles would begin establish itself as the west coast Mecca.

When Luke Walton’s father Bill attended UCLA, he saw it as the birth of a Golden Age for Los Angeles’ local cagers.

“At UCLA I went to all the Lakers games…I was there from ’70 through ’74 and these were great Lakers years. We were winning 88 straight games… and they were winning 33 straight games… It was phenomenal.”

The Lakers would continue to draft Bruins through the 70’s and acquire Thee Bruin hoopster in a 1975 trade that would have the Lakers sending, among others, UCLA’s Dave Meyers, the second pick in that year’s draft to the Buck’s in exchange for the Captain.

The next chapter in the shared history of the teams came when Swen Nater, the only player ever to be drafted first without starting a game in his senior season, would come to the Forum Blue as part of the trade that would send a suddenly redundant Norm Nixon to the Clippers.

But what is it like to be an Angeleno and accomplish the dream exacta? Play for the Bruins, get drafted by and play for the Lakers.

On draft day…San Antonio and Philadelphia had shown the most interest in me, but when I got the call and heard Jerry West and Bill Sharman on the other end of the line, I thought ‘Wow, I get to stay home.’ Jerry West was my favorite player growing up in the area, and it was just amazing that he was telling me that I had just been drafted by the Lakers. I had the opportunity to play with a young Magic Johnson and a basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and be part of a team that revitalized Lakers basketball. It’s what you dream about doing as a kid.”

If you ask most Laker fans who was drafted in the first round in 1979, they will immediately say…Brad Holland? In ’79 the Lakers had two first round picks, and Holland would go 14th after Magic with a pick that would complete a childhood dream.

The Lakers would sign, Jamal Wilkes, another Bruin as a free agent in 1979. His twenty foot lay-up would be instrumental in that mythical 1980 Finals game 6 win. Jamal would score 37 points and grab 10 rebounds in that pivotal game.

Through the 80’s the connectivity would continue as Lakers and other pros would show up at UCLA’s campus in the summer to run pick-up games.

Overall the Lakers have drafted 9 Bruins and 16 players have worn both blues.

Keith Erickson, Tracy Murray, and Jelani McCoy would contribute in varying ways when they came through L.A. as pros. Toby Bailey would be drafted in the second round by the Lakers but would be traded to Phoenix.

Which brings us to Jordan Farmar. Farmar was a star at Taft High and took the Bruins to the National Champiship game before being drafted by the Lakers with the 26th pick. The current Bruin total would reach two when Trevor Ariza was acquired in a trade.

Farmar has shown a courageous demeanor in his sophomore season and could develop into a consistent offensive and play making guard for a young Laker team with a bright future.

As UCLA has returned to prominence and is a favorite in this year’s current tournament, and the Lakers have formed a young nucleus who could potentially terrorize the NBA once they are all healthy and have time to mesh, we see how far Los Angeles basketball has come. From humble beginnings, UCLA playing at Venice High School and the Lakers fighting for time at the Sports Arena, Los Angeles basketball seems primed to add to the ongoing history of the LA hoops story.

-Gatinho

Gatinho

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19 responses to Forum and Powder Blue

  1. Gatinho,

    since you see much more UCLA games than the rest of us in Europe (about 3-4 games per year plus the bracket) , which current UCLA member has more chance of actually landing in LA (let’s hope we have the last first-round pick or something near that), and, regardless of chance of being drafted by the Lakers, who would fit the current Lakers the best?

    Having Pau and Bynum, would make Love a bit redundant, but what do you think? I honestly think Fisher isn’t getting any younger, and our first choice at the draft should be a PG to keep developing with Farmar…

  2. Collison, Westbrook, and Love are all NBA prospects. But, I don’t think the Lakers have a first round pick next year, only a second rounder and these guys will be long gone by then.

  3. We don’t have a 1st round draft pick this year. We traded it and 2010 to Memphis for Pau Gasol.

  4. I believe though, that we do have Memphis’ 2nd rounder…which might be only a few picks away from a late 1st round pick.

  5. My error: It’s an 010 2nd round pick. We do have Charlotte’s 2nd round pick from the Jones’ trade.

  6. Warren Wee Lim March 22, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    UCLA is getting powdered. I hope they get their feet back on… A&M is hustling them out.

  7. The Memphis 2nd rounder was pushed back until 2009

    Great post.

  8. I think a guy like Westbrook would be great for the Lakers. He brings strong on-ball perimeter defense, which we really lack. Too bad he’s gonna be a top 15 pick when he comes out.

  9. Totally a “money” post. Love to learn the history of the team I love so much.

    Keep it up.

  10. 8 – Westbrook would be a great addition to the lakers, not only for his defense, but also for his explosiveness and athleticism. He’d be a real spark off the bench. I think Mbah a Moute would also be a great addition, he really fits the mold of a bowen/bell type player. Plays hard on defense, and with some work he could be a reliable spot shooter, though he is still far too hesitant and unsure of himself on the offensive end at the moment.

  11. We really have no shot at Westbrook though. He’s projected to go in the bottom half of the lottery. Mbah a Moute might be a possibility, but I do not know if he will fall all the way to our second round pick. Perhaps Josh Shipp or [Mata – Real if he’s even considered] might be more realistic?

    Also Dirk going down in the Mavs – Spurs game. If he’s out for any extended period of time, the Mavs might just find themselves battling to hold off Denver or even outside. Ideally, would like them to be our 1st round opponent, so this may end up working out well for us, even though I feel for Dirk, Cuban and JKidd.

  12. Oh, yeah? Well what about Bill Hewitt?

  13. Great post, Gathino. I’ve been sertiously considering shamelessly jumping on the UCLA bandwagon in future years, given the moribund state of Cal’s bball program. I need to do a full analysis of the implications of such a move, but it’s definitely a better investment. Yeah, they’re in the same conference, but they’re also a fellow UC school…

    ON an unrelated note… I hate injuries. Our own struggles have been discussed ad nauseum, but I hate it when other teams get the bug too. Dirk just went down with an ugly injury, looking like the type Kwame had early in the year where both his knee and ankle may be involved. I hope its not as serious as it looks bit it appeared to be the type that could cost him a month or more.

    If it does turn out that serious, how much of the western conference has been determined by injury? While the Rockets persevered without Yao by hitting shots for a period they are now clearly suffering his absence with their inability to score. Where would Portland be if they’d had Greg Oden? Or the Clippers with Brand and Livingston?

    Ironically, the Lakers may be an exception, in that theiy have made the best of their injuries- Kwame and Mihm’s injuries paved the way for Bynum’s ascendance, Bynum’s injury led to the Pau trade (Mitch said it wouldn’t have happened with a healthy Bynum), and now Pau’s injury is getting the remainder of the team confidence. I’d still rather not face them, but we have not been cursed more than some others.

    I just wish seasons were determined by talent alone. I realize this is part of the game and there aren’t a lot of solutions, but it’s always depressing when you see a team’s chances destroyed by fluke accidents.

  14. LA Times Sunday edition –
    (don’t they know the Jazz play in UTAH?:)
    NBA
    Jazz stage comeback to beat Boston
    * at New Orleans 113, Boston 106: David West scored 37 points and the Hornets overcame an early 15-point deficit to stop the Celtics’ four-game winning streak. >>

  15. The Dude Abides March 23, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I just checked the remaining schedule for the Mavericks. It’s brutal. They’re 44-26 now, and the way I predict it, their record will be 49-32 going into their last game of the season, when they host New Orleans. That might not be enough to make it into the playoffs. If they do make it in, it’s probably in the eighth spot. It’s imperative that the Lakers continue to bear down so they get the #1 seed. The drawn-out first round could give Andrew plenty of practice time to reintegrate himself into the rotation, and a four or five-game series could give the team plenty of practice time while the #4-#5 teams kill each other in a long series.

  16. any word on Nowitzki? it looked like the kind of injury that could take many weeks to recover for them…could be devistating for the Mavs at this time of year.

  17. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA March 23, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    As for Nowitzki, hes out for 2 weeks.

  18. -There’s no way Dirk isn’t out for a while..that injury was way worse than what happened to Bynum
    -Interesting to see the Lakers play up tempo instead of just slow the game down like they usually do…maybe Phil is trying to feel out if his team can really run with a fast-break team

  19. Even though it makes the Mavs weaker, therefore possibly helping the Lakers, I still want to see all the teams healthy going into the playoffs. This could be a playoffs that puts the league back on the level it was during the Jordan years, and we need everyone at full capacity. Hope Dirk makes it back soon.