Six Bruin fighters are soaring into the NBA Playoffs, led by OKC’s high-flying pilot Russell Westbrook, who is Thundering back to L.A. to combat the Top Gun Lakers (who have been in Cruise Control for weeks, cooling their jets)
Attention UCLA Basketball fans: There is still more Bruin Roundball to root for this year, as a half-dozen Bruins have made it to the NBA Playoffs. I know a lot of you out there “hate” or just don’t watch Pro Basketball, for a variety of reasons, like not respecting the hot-dogging, gun-toting, overly-tattooed thugs with no fundamentals or team play. However, in my opinion, if you don’t support or care at all about the Pro success of former UCLA players, then you are not a true Bruin fan. Your allegiance to the hard-working and loyal Bruin players who gave their all for the Blue and Gold should not stop as soon as they graduate… or leave early.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule…In the olden days, I used to root against guys who left UCLA early, but in this day and age, that would be ridiculous. I can see being a little peeved at a Jrue Holiday (although his Pro performance proves that he wasn’t delusional at all), but a Kevin Love? No way you should hold a grudge there.
So, leaving early is no longer a mortal sin, but I don’t root for former Bruins who transferred to other schools. And that includes guys who were supposedly “encouraged” to transfer, ala Chase Stanback, J’mison Morgan, and Mike Moser. Also, if you have a favorite Pro team (hopefully, because of where you grew up), then I don’t expect you to root for a Bruin to beat your Pro team.
But otherwise, I would think that you would root for the Bruin Pros’ success, as that could only HELP the Bruins’ overall image, in the eyes of future recruits. And the reverse goes for usc. Maybe it matters more in Football, but it’s still important for ex-trojans who make the NBA to flounder, so that no one thinks of sc as a good place to become a successful Pro. So, yeah, I think that all good Bruin fans should root against the ex-trojan Pro’s, unless the fan’s Home Team sadly includes a trojan. And in that case, they should at least hope that the ex-trojan is never the STAR of the game.
There are three Bruin stars alive in each Conference. In the West, Russell Westbrook and 8th-seeded Oklahoma City face the top-seeded Lakers and Jordan Farmar, while Arron Afflalo’s #4 Denver Nuggets face the #5 Utah Jazz. In the East, Matt Barnes plays a key role for #2 Orlando, who is expected to destroy #7 Charlotte in their Round One match-up. It looks like a tougher path for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Dan Gadzuric, whose #6 Milwaukee faces #3 Atlanta.
On paper, Afflalo and the Nuggets have a decent shot to go deep, but are not a hot team. The Lakers are even colder than the Nuggets, but they have been nursing minor injuries to major players, and have been coasting with Home Court Advantage for the West already in hand. L.A. should be able to kick it back into gear, rising to the occasion of the Playoffs, but Westbrook and teammate Kevin Durant — the youngest NBA Scoring Leader ever — are certainly capable of surprising a rusty, not-yet-recuperated, not-so-hungry Lakers.
In the East, the Bucks are 8-point Underdogs in thier first game in Atlanta, so The Prince and Gadz might not last long in the Postseason, while Barnes’ Magic may make it all the way back to the Finals. They have a solid team, which should be able to give LeBron and Cleveland all they can handle. And if Barnes DOES get to the Finals, and Kobe does too, you can expect fireworks. The last time the two of them faced off, there were Technical fouls and nearly a fistfight. Barnes even did one of those playground bully, Bender-from-Breakfast Club fake-passes right into Kobe’s face. Amazingly, Kobe didn’t flinch. He’s probably one of the only guys in the World who wouldn’t.
I’m not a huge LeBron fan, just because too many people use him to put Kobe down. The consensus now seems to be that LeBron is the best player in the League, but that Kobe is still the best closer. I tend to agree with that statement, but if the Lakers beat the Cavs head-to-head this year, I may recant on the first half (since Playoffs are more important than regular season). Actually, while I EXPECT Cleveland to get to the Finals, I’d be very surprised to see the Lakers get there too. Phoenix is hot as hell right now, and Dallas has probably been better lately too.
But the best thing about LeBron this year is that he is probably going to knock out both currently-surviving ex-trojans, back-to-back. First, the #1 Cavs will plow through the #8 Bulls, who rely heavily on Taj Gibson, and then they should send home the Celtics and Brian Scalabrine (who might not play, but who cares?). Gibson and the Bulls made the Playoffs on the last day of the season, and I was pissed off about it… unitl I realized that the team they knocked out was Toronto, who employs Demar Derozan. Now Derozan can watch the Playoffs on TV, with O.J. Mayo and Nick Young… not to mention Trevor Ariza (who got his first Triple-Double two days ago), Baron Davis, Darren Collison, Kevin Love, Ryan Hollins, Earl Watson, Jason Kapono, and Jrue Holiday, who are all now on Holiday.
Speaking of Young and Love, here are SIX photos of the UCLA Spirit Squad, in honor of the SIX Bruins still ballin’.