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RUSSELL WAY MORE THAN PHAT

Holy Russell Above — UCLA’s Russell Westbrook gobbles up the NBA MVP Award with 69 votes, compared to 22 for Harden, 9 for Leonard, and only 1 for LeBron

Even if your team is not elite, if you AVERAGE a triple-double, you deserve the League MVP.  That’s exactly what the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook did, and on Monday night, he won the Most Valuable Player Award in a landslide.

The Thunder won only 47 games, but they DID make the Playoffs, as Westbrook averaged over 31 points, 10 Rebounds, and 10 Assists per game.  He also snagged 1.6 Steals a game, proving that he was a force on both ends of the court, with an unparalleled energy that never sees him take a possession off, like Continue Reading »

DREAM LAKER, LEAF-RAKER, IKE TAKER

…don’t you mess around with me — Lakers choose UCLA’s Lonzo Ball to be their dream maker, mover-shaker, hope-baker, and curse-breaker, seeking to end their 4-year streak of missing the playoffs, while Indiana picks up two Bruins in T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu in the NBA Draft

If Lonzo were a lozenge-type candy, he’d be a Mentos, because he is now “the fresh-laker.”  On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers did THE RIGHT THING:  They used the 2nd overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft to select Bruin One-and-Done Superstar Lonzo Ball.  The Lakers saw how Ball turned around UCLA the year before, and will hand him the reins to do the same thing in the Staples Center this coming season.

Ball will be the starting Point Guard of the most storied L.A. sports franchise, as the Lakers look to unseat the Clippers as the best team in the City.  With Chris Paul possibly defecting from the Clips next month, this Laker goal is not far-fetched at all.  The way Lonzo’s play-making raises the bar Continue Reading »

FOR LEAP CLOSURE

Turning the page — This is the final set of photos from the final auditions, as the NBA Finals continue

Bruin Kevin Love is playing well for the Cleveland Cavaliers; Bruin Matt Barnes is barely playing for the Golden State Warriors, but none of that matters, as the Warriors, with this year’s addition of Kevin Durant, seem unbeatable, taking a 2-0 series lead with consecutive blowouts.  Golden State is undefeated in the ENTIRE 2017 Playoffs, heading to Cleveland for Game 3.  Maybe the Cavs can turn it around at home, but they will have to start playing Defense if they are to even have a chance.

The Warriors beat the Cavs for the Title in 2015, but the Cavs came back from an 0-2 hole last year to win the 2016 Title against the Warriors.  But now with Durant leading the W’s, it looks like down, up, down for Kevin Love in an Elevator.

This year’s Playoffs are becoming known as the year of the blowouts, which is bad for viewers.  No casual fan gets a ton of enjoyment from Continue Reading »

UCLA: MO’ ABILITY FOR UPWARD MOBILITY

Born two Rung — A 2017 New York Times study proves that UCLA is #1 in the Country for graduates achieving a two-rung ascension up the ladder of success

UCLA has always been known as an elite University, and for a long time, being a UCLA student has been the most coveted honor amongst high schoolers Worldwide — The Westwood campus is the perennial leader in terms of applications received.  And now, according to the revered New York Times, there is a clear, logical,  justifying reason for this global desire:  UCLA ranks #1 for upward mobility.

Compared to the other 63 top-tier Universities, UCLA is the decisive winner.  Way more Bruin graduates rise up TWO LEVELS (or more) economically than any other school on the list.  It is no surprise that UCLA performed so much better than u$c in this metric;  The only surprise is that u$c was included in the “top tier” at all.

In the Sports World, a lot of people judge a school by how many of their athletes make it to the Pro’s.  Plenty of Continue Reading »

NICE COMEBACK!

Happy (about) returns:  Carin’ about Aaron’s, and more calm with Tom’s — The Bruins better be good with the return of Holiday and Welsh, or elsh!

UCLA Basketball was facing the potential loss of FIVE different players who all would have been STARS this upcoming season, but on Tuesday, two of those five decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return for another year in Westwood.

After losing Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf, and Ike Anigbogu — all one-and-dones — to the Pro Draft, it was essential that Steve Alford retain the other two NBA Hopefuls, and luckily for the Bruins, that’s what happened.  Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh have officially announced that they are coming back to UCLA for another season.

With those two probable All-Conference honorees, along with a stellar incoming class of Freshmen, the Bruins appear on paper to be talented and deep, and legitimate contenders for the Pac-12 title.  Arizona is even more stacked, and u$c gets all their starters back from last season, but UCLA is now expected to Continue Reading »

BRUIN DREW IN

Memories of Mau-rice wither soon? Hell no! — Bruin Football hero Maurice Jones-Drew heads the 2017 list of UCLA Hall of Fame inductees soon to be immortalized

If you are a UCLA Football fan, you will never forget Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew.  At first, the dreadlocked phenom was known familiarly as Mo Drew, and some people felt he was too small to excel.  Those people turned out to be as wrong as they could possibly be.  MJD went on to set record after record as a Bruin, racking up rushing and return yards by the mile, and notching Touchdowns in a way not seen around Westwood for years — and that was while on teams that did not afford him the greatest supporting cast on the field or on the sidelines.  So it was a no-brainer that the tougher-than-nails Footballer was chosen as a UCLA Hall of Famer.

Not that it matters for this honor, but Jones-Drew also kicked ass in the NFL, even leading the League in Rushing in 2011.  One thing that DOES matter as he has transitioned into the media, is that he seems to be a good representative of our alma mater.  I’ve seen him giving sound, insightful advice on TV to Fantasy Football players.  It looks like Mo could have a nice career in the studio if he decides to pursue it.  Right now, he is part of the L.A. Rams radio broadcast team.

Joining MJD in this class of inductees is Toby Bailey, who was one of the leaders of UCLA’s last Basketball National Championship team, in 1995.  The other members are Kristen Maloney (Gymnastics), Brandon Taliaferro (Volleyball), Monique Henderson (Track & Field), Gina Vecchione (Softball), Robin Beauregard (Women’s Water Polo), Bab Larsen (Track & Field/Cross Country Coach), and Bobby Field (Athletic Department).

This group will be formally inducted on Continue Reading »

ABBY LEE TO BE DRABBY, NOT FREE

Reality Star behind bars — “Dance Moms” terror Abby Lee will be wearing drab prison garb for a while as she is sentenced to a year in jail for bankruptcy fraud;  Can’t wait for her to start browbeating her fellow convicts as they prepare for the Summer Stockade Talent Show

A lot of people would like to see a former Reality Show host get arrested for serious crimes against humanity.  But while that particular guy continues to offend half the Country, ANOTHER abusive Reality personality DID get caught, convicted, and now, sentenced.

Abby Lee Miller was the host of the popular Lifetime show “Dance Moms” for about a half-dozen years, getting famous for berating a group of very talented, very young girls as they engaged in intense dance competitions.  It was a tough show to watch:  The children were remarkably graceful under pressure, but some of the actual Dance Moms were obnoxious and belligerent, and Abby was so grating, and at times, despicable in the way she treated the kids, I usually couldn’t take it.

I realize that these reality shows are secretly SCRIPTED, and coordinated in advance, but it didn’t matter.  Whether Abby was just “playing the part” of an over-the-top tyrant or whether that’s how she really is in real life, I couldn’t stand watching her.  Too bad, because some of those girls were ELITE, and definitely could have been future members of the UCLA Dance Team.  You may have even seen one of them — Maddie Ziegler — in a Sia music video.  She is quite talented (at least from my non-expert point of view).

Anyway, Abby really got on my nerves, basically ruining what could have been Continue Reading »

AUDITION’S ADDITIONS FORM NEW EDITIONS

Wake News – Yesterday, in wake of the news that made me feel like I was AT a wake, I “introduced” only the two new members of the UCLA Dance Team.  Today I bring you the six new girls on the Cheer Squad

I tend to react over-emotionally to pain and heartache.  Obviously, I am overly passionate, and not all that stable.  Well, I’m happy to report that the student for whom I was feeling sympathy yesterday is MUCH stronger than I am.  She has taken the day in stride, harbors no resentment, and will live on with the same joy for life that she has always shown.  This is just more proof that the UCLA Spirit Squad recruits and attracts high quality human beings who have solid character, and who are much more mature than I ever was or will ever be.

The Cheer Squad had added six new members this week, and I will point them out to you in Continue Reading »

13-to-9

Deja boo — Last time we saw “13-9” it was 2006, and the Bruins were shocking u$c, knocking the trojans out of the National Championship game;  This time it’s the total members of the UCLA Dance Team being slashed by 4

Perhaps a 13-member Dance Team was just too unwieldly or too expensive, but more likely the judges just felt like there were only 9 auditioners who stood out to such a degree that they were elite enough for inclusion on the World’s Best Dance Team.  So the 2017-18 UCLA Dance Team will have only 9 members (all female), down from last year’s record high of 13.

7 of 9 (which is the name of Jeri Ryan’s BORG character on Star Trek Voyager) are returnees:  Katy, Kaitlynn, Kendenn, Christine, Daphne, Emily, and Louisa;  The two newcomers are Jordan and Ashlee. [I will do a breakdown like this for the Cheer Squad next time I wake up — Probably in about 20 hours if I’m lucky]

Below are 82 more photos of people trying out for the Dance Team.  Jordan is wearing #43, and Ashlee is wearing #44.  In the near future, I will post more photos of both the Dance Team and Cheer Squad. Continue Reading »

MUCH MAJESTY, ONE TRAVESTY

Audition and subtraction — The UCLA Spirit Squad Try-outs were held on Sunday, and yes, the DYNASTY continues, but there was one gut-wrenching omission that has me royally pained

S.M.H.

Ok, let me start by saying that I have nothing but love for Mollie and her staff, and lots of respect for the selection process itself.  I understand how DIFFICULT it is to differentiate between so many beautiful, talented applicants, and I readily admit that I am NO EXPERT on cheer stunting or dance.  That being said, there was a participant on Sunday who is one of the most exotically beautiful, sweet, smart, and (seemingly) talented students in my recent memory, who will not be gracing the sidelines next season, and it just kills me.

I am not going to mention the name, because I don’t care to further highlight the EXACT situation.  I accept the fact that my lack of expertise in this field is the reason why I can’t fathom the decision.  To my layman’s eye, there was no doubt whatsoever that she belongs on the Squad.  I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so my opinion about her superior looks is completely subjective, but fitness is more objective, and I’m pretty certain that she was in the top percentiles on that parameter.  I guess the judges felt there were others who “performed” better, on the floor and in the interviews.  Grrr.  I ACCEPT the honest and sincere decision of the committee.  I hope you all can accept that my heart aches.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, hopefully without offending anyone, and definitely without casting aspersions at the lovely ladies who DID make the Squad, I can tell you a little more about the event.  The biggest development in my mind was that the Dance Team remains, at least for the time being, ALL-FEMALE.

As you might remember from last year, Continue Reading »

THE LAST HER-RAH

It’s the end of the Squad, as we know it — Do you feel fine?  Saturday’s Spring Showcase was the last performance of the current UCLA Spirit Squad that I will attend, so this collection today will be my final share of their beauty and grace, as auditions for next year’s edition take place this Sunday

Before last year’s auditions happened, I would have practically guaranteed today that the vast majority of the UCLA Spirit Squad who were not Seniors will be back next year.  But last year proved that there are no guarantees in life, and that inclusion on the Country’s ELITE Cheerleading unit is strictly merit-based.  Nothing is automatic, and the selection committee will not play favorites.  So no matter who your personal favorites are on this year’s squad, you may never see them again adorned in the iconic blue and gold uniforms that make them seem larger-than-life.

So, since this will be my very last photo-article before the tryouts next Sunday, please savor these shots, and think about what great ambassadors for UCLA these students have been, and how much glory they have brought to our school.  I wish them all the best, and I hope that those who try out again make it, but if they don’t, I have total faith that they will survive it emotionally, persevere, and attain the success and happiness in life that they truly deserve.

Now, because I like most of my articles to contain at least something about UCLA Sports, I will mention the Bruins who are still alive in the NBA Playoffs, in case you wanted a somewhat vested interest in the outcomes of this postseason:  Root for the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers if you would like to see Continue Reading »

SPRING TO ATTENTION

Who ya calling Boing? — In 14 years of attending these Spring Showcase autograph sessions, this is the first time ever I’ve seen Spirit Squad members out there in the fray, prompting me to leap into action and capture these rare moments of two worlds colliding

Usually, after a Football event, I post my 50-80 best shots in one article.  But on Saturday, there were so many shots that I consider “first-nighters,” that I had to split them into two articles.  I think if I put 100 or more in one article, and you’re trying to see them on your phone, they may take forever to load.  So I put all the Football/scrimmage “non-cheer” shots in the preceding article, and saved all the cheerleader pics for this one.  But since, for the first time ever, I got shots of Dance Teamers WITH Footballers, this article has a little of both.

There were 11 of the 23 Spirit Squad girls in attendance (plus 1 in [cute] plain clothes, just visiting!), and they were all super nice.  With Auditions coming up next week, Continue Reading »

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