Winning has been a hair-raising experience for Reggie Miller, who begs to be bald. But as long as UCLA keeps on winning, Reggie's hair is going to keep on growing. Barbers everywhere are pretty steamed.
But that's the deal Miller cut with himself more than five weeks ago, right after the Bruins had lost their fourth straight game, because even though Reggie was bald, UCLA was bad.
Something had to change, so Reggie used his head. Taking a cue from Samson, he decided to let his hair grow, hoping that UCLA would regain its strength.
"Well, I tried it with the short look, which I liked, then Dave Immel and Jack Haley said to try it the other way and see if that made a difference," Miller said.
Maybe it has, because UCLA has not been beaten since. The Bruins, who will play Washington in a Pacific-10 game tonight at Pauley Pavilion, have won nine straight since Reggie bagged the bald look.
Although Miller is pleased with the winning streak--he'll affect the hirsute look until the Bruins lose--he still feels the pangs of sacrifice. He still longs for his old image, the appearance he was comfortable with, the one that had him looking as if he had just gone one on one with a weed whacker and lost.
"I think I look better as a skin head," he said.
The thought that hair is growing on his head is not growing on him. Reggie thinks he's lost something with the new look.
"The bald look intimidates people," he said. "Short and nasty."
When Miller had no hair, Pooh Richardson called him Freddy Krueger, after the villain in the movie "Nightmare on Elm Street" who had very long, sharp knife-like fingers and very short hair. Most people noticed Freddy's fingers more than his hair, but not Miller.
"Freddy Krueger, that's my boy," Miller said. "He's lean and he's mean. I like scary movies and when I had my head shaved, some people thought I looked just like him."
In the Bruins' last two games, it looked as if they were going to lose. Miller's hair would have been history. But three-point shots by Reggie downed both Oregon State and Notre Dame.
Still, the scissors have been poised above Reggie's head ready to snip. UCLA had to come from behind to win its last four games to save Reggie's hair, as well as Walt Hazzard's. But Miller knows what just one loss would mean. Hair today, gone tomorrow.
However, Reggie remains confident that his hair will continue to grow, right along with UCLA's winning streak.
"Shoot, the way we've been playing, it might be another month," he said. "Pretty soon, in another couple of weeks, I'll look like (UCLA assistant coach) Sidney Wicks did with a big, old 'Fro (Afro)."
Until Miller can once again participate in the bald-is-beautiful experience, he has taken some precautions.
"I've been wearing a lot of hats lately," he said.
Bruin Notes Game time is 8 p.m., and KMPC will broadcast. Coach Walt Hazzard said he plans to use some sort of zone against Washington (10-9 and 4-4) to combat 7-foot center Christian Welp, who scored 40 points in a 90-80 victory over the Bruins Dec. 21, which was the last time UCLA lost. The Bruins have not played a zone this season. . . . Reggie Miller said a victory over the Huskies would hurt them badly in the conference race. "We could almost take them out of it," he said. "They'd just about be eliminated." . . . Coach Andy Russo's Huskies have lost three straight and were trounced Saturday night at Oregon State, 71-50, when Welp was held to nine points. "We're about the only ones who have had problems with them," Hazzard said. "They've had off-games recently."
Are UCLA's 12-4 season and 6-2 conference records misleading because of a schedule heavily weighted with home games? UCLA has not played on the road since Jan. 11 and has played just two games away from Pauley since the Washington game, Dec. 21, winning both. But the home trend is about to be reversed quickly. After Sunday's game against Washington State at 3 p.m. at Pauley, five of the Bruins' next seven games are on the road, although one of them is at the Sports Arena against USC. . . . The Huskies are going without senior guard Clay Damon, a starter from last season who played only 49 minutes this season until he was forced out with a broken foot.