What is it like to play in a hostile environment on the road?
“It’s what you live for. When you’re out there playing and you’re on the road – and the road victories are the most satisfying, that’s what it’s all about – to be able to go into a place and make those people who are just so incensed and unhappy at your success, and you make them sit down and you make them shut up and you make them cry in their beer, walk home with their tails between their legs. YES. That’s just the absolute best. But then when they come and they win…oh, man. That just encourages them all the more.”
Where were the toughest places to play?
“Here and Notre Dame – at least here they had girls at the school. Notre Dame, that was tough there too. The only place I only saw the scoreboard bounce was Mac Court at the collegiate level and Boston Garden at the professional level. We were just really hoping and praying that that scoreboard was going to stay up there. These fans up here are terrific. They know how to drive the train.”
What does it mean for you to be here today?
“It means everything – I played my best basketball for the Portland Trailblazers. I’ve been part of some of the most special teams in the history of professional basketball. UCLA Bruins – those records still stand until this very day. The Portland Trailblazers, the youngest team to win the champiuonship. We would’ve won so many more had it not been for the unfortunate untimely injuries. When you’re touched by something special, like I’ve been in my life – the remarkable people, with the honorable and just teammates, with the fantastic spirits and really soul of all the people involved – I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to chase that down. To be able to be here tonight, to be able to be in the game one more time, to see Larry Holliday, who was a hero to us all, to be back in Mac Court – they’re going to tear this building down and it will only just be a memory – but it will be the whole gamut of memories. From joy to sorrow, from happiness to gloom, from exultation to absolute embarrassment. That’s really what life’s all about.”
Did you ever see the Grateful Dead in Oregon?
“Saw the Grateful Dead play many times here in Eugene, it was fantastic. Autzen Stadium, Mac Court. Ken Kesey, Mountain Girl, Ken Babbs, the Merry Pranksters, all the guys. We’ve had a lot of fun here. We look forward to it again. I know that Further is coming to old Memorial Coliseum on March 8, and we’re going to do whatever we can to get there. We’re going to keep on dancing, and when they come back to Oregon and hear they’re tearing Mac Court down, they’re going to play Samson and Delilah, where they tear that old building down.”
What was it like playing Mac Court?
“Mac Court was so fierce. It was just such a great place to play. As a ballplayer, that’s what you live for. Winning at home is easy. You go out there and do it. But the true satisfaction in athletic competition is when you’re playing on the road against a good team that has great rabid fan base, and you just come out there and take it to them. But when you get your hat handed to you, as we did in March of 1974, oh my god, it’s the lowest feeling in the world. To see all those fans celebrating wildly at your expense. Ugh.”
What is it like to be a hero in both Los Angeles and Oregon?“Theyre going to cheer for me because they beat us. They’re sending the limo for me. They wouldn’t have invited me if we won all our games here. I’m a lucky man. I’m a proud and privileged man. To be able to be here representing UCLA – they gave me my start. I was touched today with all the students we talked to, the tour we took, the new baseball stadium, the fantastic equipment around the football stadium, to see the new Knight Center, the academic center – it just makes you really happy that great things are happening. The future is just so bright. It’s really what the American Dream is all about.”
What are you doing now?I’m starting my life over one my time. I’m building a business career based in San Diego.
Do you still follow UCLA?“I’m a loyal and proud Bruin, and I’ll always be a Bruin. I’m happy to be wearing my letterman’s jacket today. This is the official one. I had a great time at UCLA, the time of my life. My wife went to UCLA. My older brother went to UCLA. They gave me my life. Johnny Wooden, all my teammates. We had a really good team. A really good team.”
What was it like walking into Mac Court for the first time?We had heard about Mac Court. We knew how tough it was. The first year they weren’t very good, but then Dick Harter came and they got a lot better. They were tough and they were fierce and they were just all pumped up. They gave us a little bit of the game the second time, buy the third time they beat us. It would be hard to conjure up a building, an atmosphere that could compare to Mac Court. It’s like a movie. It’s like a video game. To see the scoreboard bounce. To wonder if it’s going to stay up there. To wonder if the fans are going to storm the court, to wonder if you’re going to get out of there alive – it was all right there. I have such fond memories of this great town. I’ve been here many times as a Teriblaberz as a proud Oregon as a deadhead – autzen stadium mac rout, weve had some good times – but the one that rally stounds out is the loss. We had a good job and we didn’t get the job done. They beat us. They beat us.
What are the fans in Oregon like?Pride is the greatest emotion. Loyalty, a remarkable human characteristic. Loyalty is the fulcrum block in John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. Right at the bottom. Where people can achieve extraordinary things because they care. People care about the state of Oregon, about this great university, they care about its great athletic teams. We will see tonight that extreme pride, that fantastic loyalty. The Blazer fans, they made me the player I was. I never could’ve got there without them. The Duck fans, they challenged us. They made us play at our best. We couldn’t deliver that final time. They got the best of us. They’re the true champions.