‘Wizard of Westwood’ Back _ and Of Course UCLA Wins
SEATTLE (AP) _ It was just like old times, the UCLA Bruins winning a national basketball championship and the gray-haired, bespectacled man sitting there watching them.
Only this time basketball’s ``wizard of Westwood″ was in the stands instead of beside the players. With none of his old, rolled-up programs in sight, John Wooden watched UCLA’s Bruins defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks, 89-78 Monday at Seattle’s Kingdome.
Thousands of fans blocked streets in Westwood, the Los Angeles neighborhood surrounding UCLA’s campus, to celebrate the victory. Police went on alert as fans wrecked a radio station’s van and fired guns into the air. No injuries were immediately reported.
In Arkansas, the reaction was subdued. President Clinton, who watched the game with about 100 friends at a Little Rock restaurant, said: ``I was afraid this might happen.″
It was a record 11th national title for the Bruins. Wooden, who led them to the first 10, has been retired 20 years and had attended the championship round only once since his wife’s death in 1985.
``I told myself I wouldn’t come unless they got to the final,″ he said. ``I haven’t been to the Final Four since it was in Indianapolis (in 1991), and that was the only one I’ve been to without my wife.″
At age 84, and looking dapper in a white shirt with burgundy stripes, a burgundy vest, navy blue jacket and paisley tie, he looked little different than during the glory days of the 1960s and ’70s when UCLA won seven championships in a row.
But those days are over.
``That was 20 years ago and they are out to establish something on their own, and that is exactly the way it should be,″ he said of the Bruins. ``I can think back, and it is pleasant that we did well, but they shouldn’t try to live on that. They should establish their own identity.″