When it was finally done, when UCLA had defeated Notre Dame for consecutive victory No. 61, without dramatics—and without much sign of effort, really—it began to be apparent that the team had accomplished much more than pass the record of Bill Russell and San Francisco. During their long and continuous occupation of the room at the top, the Bruins had survived fashion trends and hairstyles, rockabilly records and devalued dollars, presidents and Hula Hoops. They had outlasted New Frontiers, Great Societies, lunar forays and Frank Sinatra. In the end, UCLA had even outlasted war.
As the Bruins flew into the Midwest last week to take on Loyola, Notre Dame and Immortality, they seemed like the last persons on earth to care very much what they were about. They did not talk of The Streak. They did not think about it. One UCLA man said if the newspapers had shut up they wouldn't even have known about it.
Still they won. Though the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter was aligned with Mars, UCLA won easily. John Wooden and Bill Walton (see cover) and all the rest beat Loyola 87-73 and Notre Dame 82-63 to break the record and in the process convince everybody that even if they are not the best undergraduate contingent ever, they are close enough.
The ironies of the trip that was to extend The Streak toppled all over one another. Thursday night in the Chicago Stadium UCLA-Loyola was on the bill with Notre Dame-Illinois. Loyola is the school San Francisco beat in 1956 for its record 60th and the Ramblers are coached by George Ireland, a Notre Dame player when Wooden coached at a South Bend high school. Illinois is the team that stopped USF's run back there 16 years ago. And Notre Dame is the school that had a hand in another famous streak: the Irish were on both winning ends of Oklahoma's 47-game football record. Also they were the last team to defeat UCLA in basketball.
It was hardly surprising then that the moment the Bruins crowded onto their 747 in Los Angeles, the first-class cabin of TWA Flight 24 was suffused by reporters and TV floodlights. It was stuck up with blue and gold pennants and the team was waited on by hostesses in UCLA shirts. "We aren't the ones on a crusade," said Wooden. "Everybody gets passionately up for us. Oh my, will there be some screaming."
In Chicago a slithery guard named Frank Sanders got 10 of Loyola's first 19 points and the Ramblers closed to 30-29 at one moment in the first half, but the game, in which Walton had 32 points and 27 rebounds, was not close. Afterward, gawkers hung around outside the Bruin dressing room breathlessly waiting for noise or emotion. There was none. Walton went into the shower. Larry Hollyfield opened a soda can. The players stared back at the gawkers in the hall. Then the door closed. "What is this, a museum?" someone asked. It was only UCLA Taking It In Stride.
Later, behind the closed door, Hollyfield said—almost as if he felt he should say something—"That's 60. Saturday is 61. Then 62, 63, 64 and we won't have to think about it anymore."
Walton and Greg Lee, under orders to talk to nobody, interviewed each other. "How was it winning No. 60?" Walton questioned in exuberant tones. "The Ultimate? The Pinnacle?"
"No," Lee answered.
The truth is that the UCLA basketball team, having achieved this honor and earned that trophy, having taken its eight NCAA championships and on the verge of winning its 61st consecutive game—having in fact won and won and won and won until there is nothing new left to win—this very team has reached that inevitable yet harrowing point at which accomplishment becomes commonplace. In fact, a bore. It seems almost as if winning is no longer invigorating or weighty; challenging or recreative; fresh, fun or gay. No cause for celebration. Sad to say, no longer even news. UCLA winning again is a weather outlook, a traffic report, dog-bites-man stuff.
As with other dynasties of American sport in our recent past, the parts have become more engaging than the whole. Subplots are the thing. What does it matter if the UCLA basketball team—like the Yankees, Packers, Sooners and Celtics before it—wins? The team will win. But what happens offstage? Does Billy Martin punch guys in nightclubs? Does Mickey Mantle climb hotel roofs? Does Bart Starr read the Bible? Does Paul Hornung make book? Does Bill Russell throw up in the locker room? Does Bob Cousy talk like Bugs Bunny?
The public's right to know. What goes on? Are these good citizens? What are they like? What do they do? Where do they go? How? Why? Do they put their pants on one leg at a time? Who are these guys anyway?
"Oh, man," The Center said. "Why are you trying to make basketball players into human beings? Nobody believes it anyway. Ever get punched with an umbrella to see if you're real? I did. How many times? Once is too many. Nobody cares what we are away from the court. I can't go anywhere without being looked at as a freak. People don't know anything about UCLA players. They don't know me. Nobody knows me and they won't for a long time."
His bike bag filled with school books slung across one shoulder, The Center gave the peace sign and was gone. He had been standing there, draped across the doorway, talking to a visitor. It was not a particularly endearing moment because The Center is shy around strangers, suspicious of them, and he thinks they are "insincere." Still the time did not seem to dictate harsh tones; an outburst was out of place. So was hostility. Only later was it explained that The Center, Bill Walton, tended to "put people on," but in this case he was seriously taking a stand he believed in and would never back away from. It was still later—days later—that Walton appeared in a softer light. He was found to be a sincere, open-minded student of life.
They are fine traits for a man to have—taking a stand, being a student of life. Undoubtedly they are the basic characteristics that led Walton to lie down in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard in a peace protest, to march through classrooms, to barricade doors with wooden horses, to ride a janitor's scooter up the hill by the administration building and to decry loud and long the government's mining of Haiphong Harbor.
After Walton was arrested and was charged on five different counts, he pleaded nolo contendere in court, paid a $50 fine and was put on conditional probation by the university for two years. The penalty could have been much worse. As Walton was being hustled away from the protest demonstration in a Los Angeles Police Department bus, he spotted Chancellor Charles Young on the sidewalk and called him every name anybody had ever honked a bleep at. The chancellor, some feared, considered throwing Bill Walton right out of school.
This is, of course, the same student who was acclaimed Player of the Year in 1972 and will continue to be player of every year that he stays at UCLA. About him, the eminent philosopher Hot Rod Hundley, who has seen them all, says: "Surround Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Nate Thurmond with the same teammates and none of them would win as many games as Walton does." So Hundley agrees with the others who have been dumbstruck by Bill Walton's multiple talents and are of the opinion that he is the best white man ever to play the black man's game.
Sensitive to racial issues, involved politically and genuinely resentful of generation-gap attitudes toward the young, Walton refers to himself with disdain as "The Great White Hope" and lights up the firmament with Menckenian prejudices. He says:
"I think a person past 35 should not be permitted to be President. Young people are the only hope of the world."
"They treat Jerry Rubin like an animal because he is considered radical. He should be as big a hero as George Washington, a soldier of violent revolution. Today, Washington would be the one in jail."
"I wouldn't blame the blacks if they took up arms and went into outright revolt. If a black man gunned me down I'd figure it was all right because of what whites have done to blacks."
Bill Walton pleads to be left alone, guards his privacy with a passion and longs to be recognized as a human being rather than as an athlete. But with his fame has come a certain mellowing. "Last year I didn't understand the reactions to me," he says. "People made a fuss, a hassle, and I didn't like it. I was hostile, antagonistic, sometimes downright rude. I'm not laughing at them anymore. I understand the role reversals, the hero-worship deal. I now understand people for what they are rather than for what they think I am."
For all the grave posturing and momentous statements that have caused storm clouds to gather at his every move, Bill Walton beneath his stony surface is nothing but a big, fun-loving teddy bear of a college kid. One who can't wait for basketball to end so he can get that bushy red hair down to his shoulders. So he can wear a bathing suit to class. So he can rap out there in the sun with all those Cybill Shepherds waiting on the UCLA lawns. So he can hike in the mountains, surf the ocean, get back "to any kind of nature" and hide from the torture caused by peanut-brittle knees.
Clothes mean nothing to Walton, money nothing; friendship and some solitude, everything. He has a kind of lisp—the words sometimes come fizzing from under the tongue—a toothy, goofy grin and a marvelous lantern of a face that will be just right for the cartoonists as soon as he signs his trillion-dollar contract with the San Diego Trail-blazing 76ers, or whomever.
Walton tries not to think about that. Whether to leave school after his junior season is much too difficult a decision for the moment. He has said, "I couldn't look forward to tomorrow if I deserted my teammates," and he is devoted to his coach. Upon the team's discovery that John Wooden had been hospitalized with heart trouble in December, the first reaction was Walton's "that so-and-so, he better get back here fast. We need him." On the other hand, a reoccurrence of Wooden's trouble would assuredly be a factor in Walton's decision. He admits to more and more disgust at the college rules—that he cannot dunk, that teams can stall and moreover that "the best players are restricted." He says he is zoned, triple-teamed and frustrated to pieces.
While he remains at UCLA Bill Walton ices his troublesome knees at the training table meal—his teammates have become used to The Center eating dinner in his underwear. He reads Michener for pleasure. He rides a 10-speed bicycle. And—on the eve of his historic trip to the Midwest last week—he hustled down to Long Beach to take in a rock concert by Traffic.
The Point Man was sitting on a straight-back chair in what he calls his "makeshift" room in the Phi Kappa Psi house. He was eating dinner. This consisted of raisins, sunflower seeds and several different flavors of yogurt out of the small icebox in the corner. On the walls were posters advertising the dangers of marijuana, the words of Henry David Thoreau and sex. On the record player was Van Morrison. On the desk were cans of potato soup and apple juice, cereal boxes and a large jar of Cucamonga organic honey.
Greg Lee was in his 19th day of vegetarianism, which he had picked up from his older brother, a creative-writing student at Utah. Lee says people who eat meat are cannibals and that he feels much better since he started putting away all those vegetables plus some protein pills he gets from Dr. Ernie Vandeweghe, the old star from Colgate.
Lee is the son of the basketball coach at Reseda High School. He was a 4.0 student there with an all but photographic memory and a gift for mathematics. He dropped his first math course at UCLA fast, though, saying he "couldn't get psyched up for competing with a bunch of kids with two-inch glasses studying their heads off." Now he is in history, but he is disillusioned by the learning process. Some of the time, he says, he really gets inspired and cares and wants knowledge. "Mostly," he says, "school is a joke."
Lee enjoys a course concerning the history of relationships between men and women which he and Walton take on Monday evenings. The two also take Music 139. After injury and illness bogged him down early in the year and he played badly, Lee was ready to call it a season, to "bag it." He had lost his starting position to Tommy Curtis and playing wasn't fun anymore. It meant just trying to win back the position.
Then, in the first conference game against Oregon the team scored only four points in the first eight minutes and Wooden was forced to try Lee. He has done well ever since and, because Curtis caught the London flu, has started the last six games. "It's not really how well I do," Lee says, "it's how well the team does when I'm in there. Even if I'm not doing anything it looks like I am if we're smokin'."
Lee is a calm, collected "backcourt leader," as they say, and he is at his best directing the set offense. Still, he is slow, and Wooden prefers Curtis for the fast break, the press and even the Bruins' set defense. The rivalry between the two has been one of those fringe elements that seem to crop up every now and then to give a UCLA basketball season some semblance of reality.
It is no secret that Walton prefers to have his close friend Lee in the games rather than Curtis, who does not get the ball to him as well. In addition, Curtis imposes his vibrant, jabbering, nutsy-cuckoo style on a group of basically low-key individuals at the same time that Walton is attempting to lead and direct the team from under the basket. Walton has even gone so far as to cast a few humorous gibes in Wooden's direction regarding who should be playing and how much.
This is the kind of situation that Wooden handles better than anyone, and even the participants are candid about their feelings and can laugh. Lee has a mock certificate from the "Curtis Fan Club" sent to him by a former roommate. It urges him to "be loud and obnoxious" and to "strive always for soul."
Curtis, who last week was recovering from his flu and the loss of 17 pounds, did not make the trip from Los Angeles. He sat at home on Coldwater Canyon Road in Sherman Oaks wearing a yellow bathrobe, watching the games on TV and "hoping the team wins by 100, with me or without me."
A bright and articulate junior, Curtis refers to himself the way others do, as "T.C." He is from aristocratic black stock in Florida. His grandfather founded one of the first black insurance companies there. Curtis was the first black to play varsity ball at Leon High in Tallahassee and the first black on that team to be told, "Nigger, you score 30 points tonight and you're dead." The man had a gun. Curtis scored 28.
Curtis writes many letters to people around the country whom he has met through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He called several of them the week before UCLA's first nationally televised game to make sure they would watch. Then he played only 13 minutes. Afterward, he was hurt, angry and acted badly in the locker room. He thinks now he should have apologized.
"A man can't get hung up on something like that," he says. "That's what ruins other teams. T.C. will be back."
T.C. was disturbed by the pressures in high school, but he says the hardest times of his life awaited him at UCLA. "The subtlety of racism here is ridiculous," he says. "I wish I could tell some people how to do it; they don't even know how to be prejudiced." He will not comment any more than that.
The Reserve is of a type coaches call "a real animal." He is an awesome physical specimen, 6'11", 250 pounds. He entertains his teammates by occasionally picking up an enormous bench and throwing a strike against the wall. He never misses Johnny Carson at night and watches Paul Lynde whenever he appears on The Hollywood Squares. The Reserve would like to be a comedian and fancies himself a punster both at home and away.
In New Orleans, where UCLA played on a portable board floor that had been screwed together, The Reserve looked around and punned, "This sure is a screwy floor." Right during the game he said that. When the Bruins pressed for a time, he said it might be "a permanent press." Right during the game. The coach looked down the bench and wondered what was going on. Here were his national champions attempting to quell an uprising by Illinois, and down there at the end of the bench The Reserve had all his guys moaning and breaking up.
Swen Nater is certainly the largest Dutch boy ever to come out of Amsterdam and make the U.S. Olympic team. He quit, though, because he could not eat when he wanted to, and then went back to UCLA where he could eat when he wanted although he hardly ever got to play. Walton calls him the best center he has played against and Nater always thanks him for that whether it is true or not. It might be true. Pro scouts come away from UCLA practices shaking their heads at Nater's shooting ability and latent skills. He cannot play defense, however, and he doesn't appear to know what the word pass means.
Nater is second-string in academics, too. He has enough units to graduate but they are spread out so haphazardly that he is but an "early junior." One teammate says Nater should move as quickly in Pauley Pavilion as he does to the crip courses.
Nater himself says he has tried a lot of academic stuff, searching for a career, but that pro basketball looks like the best bet. "I've had a major in German," he says, "and in sociology, music, general arts, geology and a few other things. Now I'm back in German. I speak some. Someday I'd like to teach it. Why German? Oh, look, the major doesn't mean anything. The only reason I came here is to play basketball. You can't make a living with puns."
Nater knows the scouts are watching. He says the things he needs to make it are coaching and playing time. Coaching he gets. "Practices are games to me," he says. "I pretend there are two starting lineups. It's the only time I get to show what I can do. Sure I'm disappointed I don't play more, but Wooden's been right for 10 years and why change? Maybe I should have gone someplace else, or left school for the pros, but I don't think so. I get experience playing against Walton and we do win."
The school administration's protective, paranoid attitudes aside, UCLA players are not emotionless ciphers programmed into some destructive victory force without regard for life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. The team's unbroken success, however, has indulged its fans to the brink of idiocy. Student supporters keep their heads all right, but at home games there is a certain segment of the crowd behind the UCLA bench, consisting mainly of well-heeled alumni and player relatives, that deserves some sort of award for front-running.
At the slightest UCLA error there are catcalls and complaining from this crowd—as if nothing less than perfection is enough. And the section's behavior toward the opposition, even as the poor team is being blown out of the place, is nothing short of juvenile. When Providence's Ernie DiGregorio left Streak Game No. 59 a fortnight ago, he received a merited standing ovation from the UCLA students. The older segment orally bade good riddance.
UCLA players refuse to be quoted directly, but to a man they are bitterly critical of these bad vibrations. They chastise their supporters for expecting too much. They wonder what the reactions would be to defeat. They seriously doubt the loyalties would be lasting.
Off the court UCLA players get away with the same brand of antics as any mortal team. Behind the backs of authority they have cake fights in the locker room and girls are shanghaied in after curfews. Beer sometimes flows at the Bel-Air Sands Hotel where the team stays on home-game weekends. Then there was a memorable trip back from Notre Dame last season. Overjoyed at leaving the sub-freezing temperatures and being rid of the exasperating loitering contest the Irish had concocted, the Bruins imbibed liberally during a long layover at the Chicago airport. They boarded the plane, in the words of one, "thoroughly plastered out of our minds." And they commenced to have peanut-and water-hurling battles the rest of the flight until a stray missile nailed Wooden. A halt was called immediately.
"We have this great UCLA image," one Bruin says, "and nobody suspects we are a bunch of wonderful lawbreaking degenerates."
Above all, the Bruins are human. They have a good time.
Keith Wilkes is a baby-faced, excruciatingly quiet, Baptist minister's son from Santa Barbara. He is a smooth, graceful junior forward, an intelligent man who does everything with eminent style. His teammates josh him about his age (he is only 19) and call him "Young Keith" or "Jackson," which is his first name. Nobody ever knows he is around except the ladies. The ladies dig Young Keith. Next to Bill Walton he may be UCLA's most valuable man and he certainly is one of the most underrated players on any campus. But Keith Wilkes will never receive the individual attention he deserves while playing at UCLA.
Pete Trgovich is a lank, bony, ugly duckling of a 6'5" sophomore who comes from East Chicago, Ind. His attitudes and outlook reflect that part of the country and his eyes are still being opened wide by what goes on in Los Angeles. "The Dan Ryan Expressway was never like this," he says. "There are so many good-looking skirts around." And he just found out last week that if he goes into Hollis Johnson's drugstore there in Westwood from the back instead of from the front he can get his cheeseburgers and shakes free while sitting on a wooden crate by the delivery entrance. He found out that Hollis takes care of UCLA basketball players. At most any other school he already would have made the starting team and become famous. In recent weeks at UCLA Pete Trgovich has averaged about seven minutes a game.
Andre McCarter averages zero minutes. He is from Philadelphia, another sophomore. When he saw he would have to share playing time this season with Lee and Curtis at the point, he decided to sit out the year. McCarter is confident enough to believe he could have made All-America at some other place right away. He knows he is better than Lee or Curtis. So does Lee. So does Curtis. So does John Wooden. But because McCarter does not as yet fit well into the UCLA system, he redshirts.
McCarter is perceptive about this arrangement. He says it is better for the team that he stay out. He says he has purposely taken some of the values off basketball so that he can cope. Yet he is the first man out to practice every day and he works on his moves for half an hour in solitude. When he went home for Christmas where everybody knows how good he is, all his friends and the journalists in the East asked McCarter what was wrong and why he didn't leave UCLA. That made him feel better; somebody cared. Tom Hawkins, the former pro player and now an announcer, had McCarter on TV in L.A. the day after he made the painful decision to sit out. Beforehand Hawkins asked him if he wanted to criticize the coach and the system, or pass it over. McCarter, who is not unhappy but not particularly ecstatic either, passed it over. He said it was worth it to wait and play at UCLA.
"The way everything runs the course here, it is worth it," The Seniors were saying. The Seniors had been through the mill themselves. Two years ago they played behind Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe and hardly got in the games. One of them accepted it with equanimity. The other one continued to grumble. Now Larry Farmer, the former, and Larry Hollyfield are the wizened veterans at UCLA. Both start the games and play most of the way.
The Seniors were eating bagels on a Sunday morning in the living room of Sam Gilbert, a wealthy contractor and UCLA alumnus who lives in Pacific Palisades in a storybook house that overlooks the ocean and is occupied by antiques from all over the world. Gilbert advises the players on professional contracts, and he and his wife Rose have twin Mercedes parked outside with license plates "Papa G" and "Mama G." For Christmas The Seniors gave Gilbert a Rolls-Royce. It was only a transistor radio, but the first Rolls Papa G ever had.
Sam Gilbert's home is where the players come to wash their cars on Sundays, to swim, to eat Thanksgiving dinner, to get away from it all. Last Thanksgiving Bill Walton and Andre McCarter bet on which one could eat a whole pumpkin pie covered with ice cream after the turkey dinner. Walton could. McCarter tried and took a walk on the beach. This morning Farmer and Hollyfield were going easy on the food.
As contributors to the UCLA program, both have come a long way. Farmer came from Denver and had to write a letter selling himself to Westwood. It is said he was a "panic pick" by the school's recruiters in a weak year when high school players such as Allan Hornyak (later of Ohio State) and Mike Edwards (of Tennessee) had turned down UCLA. Farmer was an ROTC corps commander at Manual High in Denver, the vice-president of the Honor Society, an upstanding citizen and the world's nicest fellow. When John Wooden met Farmer for the first time he asked the youngster if he thought he was good enough to play at UCLA. Farmer said he was; the school granted him a scholarship.
Farmer is called "Moose" by the UCLA student body because he watches Bullwinkle the Moose cartoons. He is given to elegant clothes—suedes, leathers, plaid capes, multi-toned shoes and wide-brimmed hats. Since his outfits appear only on game nights, however, there is jocular speculation that Farmer rents them solely for special occasions. During the school day he wears old T shirts and his UCLA letter jacket.
"I have been told I am the finest, most superbad dresser in college basketball," Farmer says with a smile. "Now I don't know about that, but this part is square business; I taught Wicks and Rowe everything they know about clothes."
Hollyfield, who has been a winner—if not a dresser—all his life, has an interesting line of doubletalk that he reverts to in a pinch. He is Wooden's proudest reclamation project since Wicks. A spectacular and explosive one-on-one operator, he is a natural forward but has taken the departed Henry Bibby's spot on the wing. Thus he is playing out of position. The feeling was that Hollyfield had to be forced onto the starting five this season or be a detriment to the team. Wooden did not want to go through another year like the last one with him. The conversion has worked out well for the most part. Though his outside shooting has been inconsistent, Hollyfield is capable of getting hot very quickly. Moreover, his record as 'a winner is truly impressive. In high school in Compton, Hollyfield's team lost only three times. At Compton Junior College, not at all. And at UCLA he has lost one game—at Notre Dame two years ago.
The Seniors remember that game. They remember how it felt to lose. It was the first time on national TV for both. Farmer, having entered the contest after Wicks fouled out, posted up inside and yelled for the ball. Three different times down the floor he beckoned and each time Hollyfield went solo, fired and scored. Farmer says he wanted his mother, watching at home, to see him score.
Before that, though, they had only been able to watch themselves as Austin Carr tore up the Bruins on the way to 46 points. The two sophomores kept kidding each other on the bench that one of them was going to have to go in and stop Carr. Hollyfield got the call.
"I just said, 'Oh, no, my God,' " Hollyfield remembers. "Here Austin was doing his stuff on Sidney and everybody and here I got to go be embarrassed. Coach said, 'Go get him.' I said, 'Wahhhhh.' "
After the game, Hollyfield recalls stomping around outside the dressing room and declining to enter for fear he would break down. Farmer said he sat inside with his back turned and listened—for the first and last time—to John Wooden speak of a losing game. The Bruins merely had been licked that afternoon, the coach said. They should pack up and get out of there. On the way, he said, they should remember to hold their heads up.
Two years later, as the bus rolled through the low flatlands toward South Bend where he had once coached, where his son had been born, where his roots are, John Wooden talked about the old days. He was coming back home to Indiana to win No. 61. His wife Nell was by his side. And somebody named Mick Jagger was blasting from a tape deck in the back. "I wouldn't turn him on," said Wooden, "but he doesn't bug me."
The next day, while the Notre Dame campus sizzled with anticipation at a pre-game rally, Larry Farmer and Larry Hollyfield sat in a motel room and confessed that the thing was finally becoming hairy. "We're here now, we have to think about the record," said Farmer.
"Sometimes we do save ourselves. These are the kind of games we play great in," said Hollyfield.
UCLA did just that. Greeted by thunderous boos, Bill Walton had what Wooden calls "the flame in his eyes," and he dominated once more. The Irish kept it close for a while, four to six points, but Coach Digger Phelps' plan to run with UCLA, to take the ball right to Walton, to get physical with the champions, was doomed from the beginning.
The towering redhead grabbed Notre Dame shots and sometimes threw them into the audience. He kept taking high lob passes from Greg Lee above the rim and dropping the ball in. And he slugged and pushed back when the Irish's John Shumate and Pete Crotty turned to their hatchets and the game got out of hand. Walton made 16 points, got 15 rebounds and blocked at least 10 shots. Keith Wilkes, too, played a marvelous game, scoring 20 points and shutting out Gary Novak from the field.
Crotty, whom the UCLA players later called "karate," bled throughout the contest after Farmer opened up his nose with an elbow. Phelps and Shumate were reprimanded by Wooden along the sidelines. ("John asked me if I had read his book," laughed Digger. "I said I had.") And the rest of the Notre Dame team was intimidated by the ridicule of Hollyfield, who laughed as he punished them all afternoon long.
When it was over—when the starters were all together sitting on the bench, slapping palms and watching the scrubs finish up—Walton continued to razz Notre Dame. The Irish student section responded in chorus, "Shut up Walton." Then he walked to the dressing room to ice his knees.
As The Seniors sat there, they thought about two years ago at South Bend. They had been "redeemed," they thought, and everything was evened up and now the pressure was off and they could go home.
Much later Hollyfield said yes, No. 61 did mean a lot to him after all, maybe more than last year's NCAA championship when he did not play much. Farmer agreed it was nice to have accomplished something nobody had done before. And Lee pointed out No. 61 would not last long, that the Bruins would break their own record next week.
Bill Walton, less elusive than before, walked toward the bus and discarded as worthless the "meanings" of any contests, records or streaks. "Will you remember this game for a long time?" he was asked. "More than the others? Longer than the others?"
Walton thought about that for only a moment. He said no and paused. The game he'll remember most, he said, is the game UCLA loses.