The LA schools are visiting Haas this week, something that usually brings out the best (worst? let’s call it ‘most passionate’) in Cal Basketball fans. Sure, we may get up and scream when a top-ranked Arizona or Oregon come to town, and we’ll always have special reasons for wanting to see out boys take down Stanford, but there’s something about the LA schools that makes our fans get, well, personal.
Maybe it’s because many of us are from Southern California (I’m not, but many of my friends are), or most of us probably thought about going to one of those schools (I got into both UCLA and USC, and really thought about going USC - what a mistake that would have been!). At the very least, a lot of our high school friends went there, and we’d love to show them what a poor decision they made. It’s a rivalry thing. If Stanford is the private school on the hill, and our hatred of them is the hatred of the class struggle, then UCLA is the big crosstown rival, and our hatred of them is the hatred of the family feud, us against them, brother against brother (BTW, Joe will always be my favorite Shipp).
The LA schools get our blood up like no other. There’s no more Steve Lavin (he of the greased-back hair and teams with wasted potential) to kick around any more, no more Henry Bibby and chants of "Your-son-hates-you! Clap Clap ClapClapClap", no more Jason Kapono and his ridiculous headband (I remember his senior year, the entire Bench was decked out in mocking headbands - upside-down, of course, just to make the point clear), but the hatred still lives. I’ve never seen an angry mob form quite so fast as when Matt Barnes decked Shantay Legans - if he hadn’t been ejected, the Haas crowd might have done it themselves - and I haven’t seen a funnier stunt than last year when Rally-Comm duped USC’s Gabe Pruitt into thinking he had a hot date after the game, then shouted out his phone number - full description here.
I hate LA for a number of reasons. I hate the smog and the sprawl that goes on forever. I hate how there’s no center of culture, and how public transportation is essentially useless. I hate the Dodgers and the Angels, and I really hate that damn Rally Monkey. I hate how the city is so damn sprawling, I have to drive through it to get to San Diego. I hate how the San Diego freeway doesn’t go to San Diego at all. I hate how half of all movies take place in LA because screenwriters are too bereft of imagination after living in LA for five years waiting tables. And remember the subway at the end of ‘Speed’? I still don’t know where the hell that is. Did they just make it up?
Most of all, I hate UCLA and USC, and it’s hard to hate teams that aren’t any good. Rest assured, these teams are good. Both come to Haas with national rankings, and we’ll be fortunate to get a split out of this weekend. But I’ll be cheering on my Bears just the same. Oh, how I miss Steve Lavin…