March 3, 2009
LOS ANGELES - For the last three seasons, UCLA has honored its NCAA Championship men's basketball teams. In 2007, UCLA celebrated the 40th anniversary of Coach John Wooden's 1967 squad and last season, did the same for the 40th anniversary of his 1968 team. Earlier this year, the Bruins honored two more of Coach Wooden's NCAA Championship squads -- his first two national title teams of 1964 (45th anniversary) and 1965 (44th anniversary) -- on Saturday, Jan. 31 against Stanford.
On Saturday, March 7 (final home game, UCLA vs. Oregon/tip 12:30 p.m.), Coach Wooden's 1969 squad (40th anniversary) will be honored. The reunion will consist of a reception (before the game for each team's coaches, players and families) and a halftime ceremony.
1969 NCAA Championship Team -- Three-peat
Coach Wooden directed the Bruins to their third consecutive NCAA Championship (at the time, UCLA became the only school to win three straight national titles) and fifth in a six-year span (1964-65-67-68-69). UCLA finished 29-1 overall. The Bruins started the season 25-0. UCLA then lost to USC in Pauley Pavilion 46-44 (March 8 -- it was UCLA's first loss in Pauley). The Bruins went on to win their next four games, all NCAA contests, to earn their third consecutive NCAA title. UCLA also won the first Pacific-8 conference crown, with a 13-1 mark.
The season marked the end of his UCLA career for the 7-foot-1 and 1/2-inch center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor). He led the Bruins to an overall three-year record (1967-68-69) of 88-2, three consecutive NCAA Championships and is the only player in history to be named three-time NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. In 1969, Abdul-Jabbar earned the first ever Naismith Trophy, given to the nation's top player.
Joining senior co-captain Abdul-Jabbar (24.0 ppg/14.6 rpg) in the starting lineup were guards, junior John Vallely (11.0 ppg/3.2 rpg) and senior Ken Heitz (6.5 ppg/2.3 rpg) and forwards, sophomore Curtis Rowe (12.9 ppg/7.6 rpg) and senior co-captain Lynn Shackelford (7.0 ppg/4.0 rpg).
In the NCAA Final Four (Louisville, KY) in a semi-final game, the Bruins beat Drake 85-82 (March 20) and were led by Vallely's 29 points and Abdul-Jabbar's 25. In the NCAA Championship contest, UCLA defeated Coach Wooden's alma mater, Purdue, 92-72 (March 21), as Abdul-Jabbar scored 37 points with 20 rebounds.
For the third consecutive season, Abdul-Jabbar earned first-team All-American honors and was joined on the All-Conference team by Rowe. At the end of his Bruin career, Abdul-Jabbar left UCLA as the school's all-time leading scorer (2,325) and rebounder (1,367) and still holds the top five positions on the Bruin career individual single-game scoring chart (No. 1 with 61 points in UCLA's 100-78 victory over Washington State on Feb. 25, 1967 in Pauley Pavilion).