Welcome to our summer series Arena Wars, where we've summoned the fans to defend their home court.
In which arena would you rather experience a game?
Total Votes: 3,684
We start in the Pac-10 where Oregon's ancient McArthur Court takes on UCLA's shrine of champions at Pauley Pavilion.
While McArthur Court, which opened in 1926, doesn't get the national exposure of Pauley, visiting teams have deemed it one of toughest places to play in the nation. The Ducks have compiled a 703-383 record at McArthur Court.
Rumor has it that the promise of playing in a new arena was one of the reasons Lew Alcindor chose to attend UCLA. The Bruins have won nine of their 11 championships since opening the arena with an all-time record of 611-91 at Pauley Pavilion.
|McArthur Court -- home of the Oregon Ducks|
McArthur Court, home of the Oregon Ducks, is old. Forty years ago articles were being written saying that "The Pit" was past its prime. (And, no offense New Mexico, Mac Court is The Pit.) And it's still here ... full of the memories that all of those games delivered.
Players like Stan Love and Jim Barnett. Larry Holiday had his dislocated shoulder shoved back in to place three times in a victory over Sidney Wicks and the Bruins back in the 1960's. Ronnie Lee, Greg Ballard, Gerald Willett and the "Kamikaze Kids" in the '70's. They took it to the Bruins just like Aaron Brooks and Tajuan Porter did a few seasons back.
It's across the street from a cemetery. But, make no mistake, it's no mausoleum. Energy, enthusiasm and white-hot intensity fill Mac Court for every game.
The fans aren't there just to watch a game. It's work. It's an obsession. Former UCLA coach Gene Bartow called the fans "Deranged Idiots" a long time before Duke and the Cameron Crazies. The seats are right next to the floor, directly behind the benches, and straight up for three stories. Arizona fans stand up and won't sit down until the other team scores. That's great, fans bonding with the team, showing solidarity. But, when the baton twirlers in a parade go past the spectators, do they feel intimidated? Not so much.
In The Pit, the seats are old and hard. Fans are stomping their feet, the basket is moving. Overhead, the scoreboard is swaying and you're seriously hoping maintenance made its last check. When the Ducks take a charge, it gets so loud you don't even hear the noise. It's like you're underwater and you're flailing your arms trying to get to the surface. That's what it feels like for the fans. The other team is trying to set up a play with the floor vibrating under their feet, and oh yes, they're checking out the scoreboard hanging by cables over their heads.
|Pauley Pavilion -- home of the UCLA Bruins|
The alumni started raising money when a UC Regent named Edwin W. Pauley said he would match the alumni dollar-for-dollar. At a cost of $5 million, the 12,000-seat Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion was set to open its doors for the '65-66 season. On Nov. 27, 1965, Pauley Pavilion hosted its first game. In that contest, Lew Alcindor led a freshman squad against the top-ranked, two-time defending national champion Bruins varsity squad. That night, the freshmen steamrolled their way to a 15-point drubbing of the varsity squad, and the tone was set for the new venue.
When you walk in to Pauley Pavilion, you'll notice the 11 Division I championship banners. Hanging from high above, they are the overseers of Pauley. They represent all the blood, sweat and tears players spilled to achieve their greatness.
Every arena has a certain aroma. Pauley has more of a smell. No, not the smell of the early sixties and the B.O. Barn. This is the sweet smell of success. The fragrance of victory is everywhere.
Finally, you reach your seat, only no one is sitting. The student section is working its way to its usual frenzied state. Your heart is pounding as the tip-off nears. Your eyes gaze down to the bench and see what they think is a little man with horned rimmed glasses and a rolled up program in his hand. Your eyes shift back to the floor and it hits you. That floor has a name.
On December 29, 2003, the floor was given the name "Nell & John Wooden Court". This, to honor the greatest coach who ever walked the hardwood and his late wife Nell.
Coach Wooden represents the Chairman of the Board. His spirit and discipline are the infrastructure of the arena. His life blood articulates through Pauley as if he never left. Ah, yes! Tradition. Unity. Victory. Success. Just another routine night at Pauley Pavilion!
|Gary Parrish's take|
Does Pauley Pavilion come with John Wooden behind the bench? If so, that's hard to beat. Because it's one of the neat things about making a trip to a UCLA game, that there's a decent chance you'll sit down, look across the court and see an icon watching the school he once led to 10 national titles.
As someone who travels a lot and accumulates neat experiences, I'm embarrassed to tell you that I'm almost numb to scenes, that I rarely take the time to look around and recognize that I'm lucky to do many of the things I do. But I do remember my first trip to Pauley Pavilion, and I still recall walking around and thinking ... "Damn, that cheerleader is pretty."
No, seriously, I remember thinking it was, well, neat. Just neat. All the history. All the championship banners. Coach Wooden right behind the bench.
And so while Pauley Pavilion isn't the prettiest arena or nicest arena or wildest arena you'll ever see, it's certainly among the must-see places in college athletics because of, if nothing else, its significance in the history of college athletics. And if Coach Wooden is behind the bench, that just makes it a little neater.