West All-Star forward Shabazz Muhammad (15) drives against Alex Poythress… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)
It only took ornery Uncle Bill Plaschke about the time of a fastbreak basket to try and put a damper on UCLA basketball fans' greatest day since, well, in a long time. He points out the obvious about Coach Ben Howland being on the hot seat due to increased expectations brought on by superior recruiting. I guess that puts him in the same elite boat as, well, every other coach in collegiate sports. I guess Howland would have been better off scouring the small private schools to find that next 5-10 superstar so he can keep his job as his team would then be sure to overachieve.
Good plan, Plaschke. I'm sure it will be brought up at the next Bruin Booster meeting.
Not to wallow in nostalgia, but it's sad to see college basketball reduced to a glorified NBA tryout. If Shabazz Muhammad is anywhere near as good as UCLA hopes he is, he'll turn pro after his freshman year. Do people really expect Ben Howland to "coach" this kid? They used to have a word for unconnected players who were brought it on a short-term basis to help a team win. They were called "ringers."
So Shabazz Muhammad will be the savior of UCLA basketball? I can well understand that Ben Howland and Dan Guerrero really do need Muhammad to help them resurrect their own shaky employment status, but why would a fine educational institution like UCLA want to emulate the tawdry one-and-done model of Kentucky, no matter how successful in the very short term?
Shame on Howland and Guerrero and the other administrative enablers at UCLA who are eager to hand out a "scholarship" to someone whose main interest in the university seems to be the convenient location of the weight rooms. What part of "educational mission" do these people not understand?
John de Jong
Bill Plaschke is right that a high-level, highly recruited college basketball player can be a burden to a coach, and basketball coaches through the years have wrestled with this challenge. I remember watching UCLA practice sessions when John Wooden was working with Lew Alcindor. Wooden frequently worked with him one on one, gently suggesting how he should change his stance when making free throws — "Now watch me, Lewis. Try to bend your knees like this Lewis. Yes, that's fine Lewis."
Coach Ben Howland is a gentleman in the mold of Coach Wooden, and hopefully he can handle his new — and fabulous —- burden.
Martin A. Brower
Corona del Mar
Heck, if Shabazz Muhammad can at least make it to the team bus on time, I'll be happy.
Mark J. Featherstone
They've got a secret
The proposed new ownership and Frank McCourt want certain details of the sale hidden and sealed from the public. If everything is on the up and up, why hide it? This whole new ownership and McCourt relationship just doesn't pass the smell test. After 48 years of being a Dodgers fan, I'm going to continue my boycott of anything Dodgers-related. Maybe it's time to root for the Angels now.
It should be happiness, but it's not. A McCourt-less Dodgers future is huge, yet McCourt is still there. Baseball had a cancer in L.A., a disease that broke up a whole organization into two dozen parts, dividing and spreading per Biology 101. Now we are stuck with a perpetual McCourt half-life due to epidemiological dissemination and metastasis; no amount of fancy words will disguise that stinky fact.
The McCourts were toxic, and they were treated with a big payday, plus they still are involved with the stadium area. Two billion dollars and no cure.
Magic may still have his Showtime smile, but McCourt still has the parking lots. I know I speak for thousands of baseball fans, if McCourt keeps the parking lots I won't be attending any games. Simple. Sorry Dodgers. I would rather take the train to Anaheim.
T.J. Simers has tried to shame Dodgers fans because they feel good about Magic Johnson being part of the new ownership group. What Simers fails to recognize is that whatever the size of Magic's stake, fans are excited because they trust his judgment. Magic is more than a front man. His success since he stopped playing basketball is not a fastbreak. He's built up his good character for more than 30 years.
Can Magic, the baseball fan, name the starting lineup of any baseball team, ever? I'm not swallowing the Kool-Aid on this one yet. Would have been cheaper to bring back Steve Soboroff.
For many of us, Vin Scully's absence from the broadcast booth at Dodger Stadium is a better reason to postpone a game than rain.