– From Aaron Madfes –
Back in 1998 I was playing pick up basketball in the men’s gym. Usually I ran hoops in the Wooden center but weekends in Men’s gym were interesting games because it was open to non-students and ex-alumni alike. You never knew who would show up. It was in this setting that I found myself in a hoops game playing against (among other people) Jonathan Ogden. I do not know why he was back on campus but he must have been trying to keep in shape for the football-off-season. Needless to say, biggest most athletic freak I have ever played with: 6’8, 300+ lbs, with handles and hops, he was crossing people over as if he were AI breaking down a newly unretired Michael Jordan. An amazing athlete.
In one exchange, and to the meat of my story, on offense my team was running a little pick-and-roll play to try and secure a late game point. Games to 12 by ones, straight-up, no winning by two nonsense. The guy playing the point came to the top of the key, on the rotation Ogden steps up to guard him, and I set a pick for the PG to cut free. Think about that for a moment. Here I am 6 feet tall, maybe 180 lbs setting a screen on a man who is 8 inches taller and maybe 80-100 lbs bigger who is paid in part to run block through 280 lbs linemen who are far more athletic than myself. Back to the game, Ogden turned, saw my set screen before running through me, abruptly stops, looked at me like I was crazy, then patted me on the head for effort and lacking of fear. He just stopped to respect the effort of my screen.
Thank you Mr. Ogden for not killing me and for my “this is UCLA” moment.