It was nice to finally come back home. As some of you readers my know UCLA is my alma mater. I graduated from UCLA in 2002 and since that time I haven't been to a UCLA basketball game until today. I was planning on checking out the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion for quite some time. Some of my fondest memories of college happened here and I was excited to finally get a chance to check out the UCLA vs Long Beach State game today. I also came somewhat prepared since I wanted to get some photos signed by Shabazz Muhammad along with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams.
The game was scheduled to start at 8pm and the doors opened at 7pm. My friend Nick and I got there around 6:45 and decided to pay homage to Coach John Wooden by visiting his statue in front of Pauley Pavilion.
As soon as the doors opened we entered the stadium and took a ton of photos. Here are a few pictures of the newly renovated basketball court.
We had floor level seats four rows behind courside. I took some photos during warm ups of the players.
There was some downtime before tip off so I decided to take some more photos of Pauley Pavilion. UCLA basically made a John Wooden shrine located near the entrance of the stadium. They had walls filled with UCLA and John Wooden memorabilia. They set each exhibit just like they do at the Basketball Hall of Fame.
When we got back to our seats the players came back out for player introductions and more warmups.
The first surprise of the night was running into Dave Winfield. I wasn't prepared for this. From what I know Dave doesn't have any ties to UCLA so I guess he just came out to watch the game. He was sitting two rows ahead of us. Sadly I didn't come prepared. It was painful not to get his autograph but luckily I already own a baseball signed by him. I got his autograph at Angel Stadium two years ago when they had their 50th anniversary celebration.
To make matters worse a few minutes later Jerry West and Oscar Robertson both walked in. I guess the autograph gods were mocking me since I didn't come prepared.
At halftime my buddy Nick and I decided to go over to Jerry and Oscar to hopefully get a photo take with them. Jerry initially took a few photos with UCLA students until security stopped the photo session. I had a one on one with Oscar but he completely ignored my autograph request.
The consolation was that I was able to run into a ton of UCLA alumni tonight. It was good to see old faces again such as Kiki Vandeweghe, Toby Bailey, Tyus Edney, Ryan Hollins, Don MacLean, and Tracy Murray. Too bad I didn't prep for any of these guys either. One cool thing was that both UCLA QB Brett Hundley and RB Johnathan Franklin were in attendance as well. Both guys were really cool and were signing autographs and taking photos with fans. Since I didn't have anything for them I had them both sign a black cardboard sheet for me. I really need to thank both guys for resurrecting our football program.
My first autographs for the day. Next time I need to bring a mini helmet. The good news was that UCLA had full control of the entire game and won 89 to 70. I hope they keep this momentum up. After the game I decided to stick around and wait for the players. They interviewed Shabazz Muhammad so I waited patiently to get his autograph after the interview.
Shabazz was nice enough to sign three photos for me and also took a picture with me as well. Thanks again Shabazz for the photo op and autographs.
Kyle Anderson was the next player to stop and sign for us. Kyle signed my photo and was nice enough to take a photo with me and my friend Nick and well.
"Slow-Mo" is really tall in person. Basically we both look dwarfed standing next to him.
The next two players to sign were the Wear twins. Since I didn't have anything for them to sign I ended up getting both David and Travis Wear to sign a UCLA pocket schedule.
The last player to sign was Jordan Adams. Personally I feel he is the most talented player on the UCLA roster. He's always overshadowed by Shabazz and Slow-Mo but this guy can shoot. Jordan was kind enough to sign a photo for me and also took a photo with me as well.
Overall it was good to be back home.