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Could These Really Be the Last Lavin Letters?

Godspeed to Steve Lavin on his next endeavor. True, he took many a barb and insult from the Bruin Nation. But no one twisted his arm to accept the UCLA coaching job in the first place.

He may have had the Sweet 16s in his wallet, but sadly there weren’t any Final Fours in the bank.

Mark J. Featherstone

Windsor Hills

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The wolves have had their meal. The Steve Lavin era is over and the next lamb will soon be procured and coddled, then fed and fattened, before being delivered to the altar of butchers (read: Bruin staff, alumni and assorted dreamers who cannot forget the excellence of John Wooden or the fact that his unprecedented reign ended almost 30 years ago).

Dan Jensen

San Clemente

Dear Dan Guerrero:

As a longtime UCLA basketball fan and supporter, I applaud your move in firing Steve Lavin. I would like to make a suggestion for a new coach. Take all the money the school can offer, all the support the alumni can muster, all the prayers you can rely on. Hire Orlando “Tubby” Smith.

Unlike Mr. Lavin, Tubby Smith is a complete coach. He is a motivator, a competitor, a graceful and mature man. After the second-guessing he has received in Kentucky, I believe he could be lured away given the right amount of West Coast courting.

Given the current Wildcat Fever, I may be hung for treason in the morning.

Bob Werner

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Louisville, Ky.

Yes: He is a great coach, and he has great recruiting skills.

Yes: His players graduate from college and he is well respected by his basketball coaching peers.

Yes: His March Madness record is well respected and he loves UCLA and Southern California.

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No: He is independent, fat and bald, he will not fit into an Armani suit with carefully groomed oiled hair.

Yes: he will restore dignity and respect to the UCLA basketball program.

Choose Rick Majerus.

Carol A. Kirgis

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Camarillo

Can we please put to rest all of the nonsensical speculation that Ben Howland will leave Pitt to take the UCLA job? He would have to be insane.

If you were Ben Howland, why on earth would you leave a top-10 program where you play in a brand-new, sold-out arena to come to a 10-19 team that plays in an old, decrepit dump?

And, by the way, Howland would have to take a major pay cut, unless UCLA is ready to fork out about $1.1 million per season, which is what Howland currently makes (factoring in cost of living). That seems unlikely. And speaking of money, I’m pretty sure UCLA wouldn’t be interested in wasting $6 million to buy out his Pitt contract.

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Besides, even if Howland wanted to leave Pitt, Pitt is notorious for not letting other schools talk to their coaches while under contract.

So, to all L.A. media and UCLA fans, please give up this pipe dream. Howland isn’t coming to UCLA.

Dave Moser

West Hollywood

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I’m inclined to believe that UCLA brought in Dan Guerrero as a hatchet man.

I can’t think of any other athletic director who has fired two high-profile coaches -- Bob Toledo and Steve Lavin -- in his first year on the job.

Joe Lyou

Gardena

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My fondest memory of Steve Lavin is not the numerous times he led his team to the NCAA tournament or even when he made the final eight in 1997. Rather, it was when on behalf of the Los Angeles Central City Optimist Club, Coach Lavin brought some of UCLA’s finest to Alpine Recreational Center in Chinatown to teach some young kids about how to play basketball.

While the kids and their parents could not believe a coach from a major university would take the time to come down to visit kids who have little chance of getting into UCLA, much less than on the basketball team, Coach Lavin taught them not only about basketball skills but about staying in school and being true to oneself.

I will leave it to others who are more wise in the art of playing basketball to determine how Coach Lavin stacks up to other coaches, but that one afternoon in a city-owned basketball gym in Chinatown showed me Coach Lavin knew what coaching sports was all about.

Thomas Wall

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Rancho Palos Verdes

The college experience of a student-athlete should not be limited to earning a degree and competing in sports. Every year during the holidays, the UCLA men’s basketball team visits patients at City of Hope. Many of our patients are children whose illnesses require them to stay in the hospital over the holidays. The visits bring smiles to their faces and provide them with much-needed encouragement.

Steve Lavin took the time to have personal conversations with many hospitalized children, wishing them well in their battles against some of humanity’s most serious diseases. He made a lasting impression on the lives of countless patients and their families. We at City of Hope are grateful to Steve Lavin and UCLA for their commitment to the community, for the encouragement they have given our patients, and for incorporating compassionate activities into the educational lives of their student athletes. Many of these athletes have expressed gratitude for being a part of this experience.

James S. Miser

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President and CEO

City of Hope, Duarte

All the quitters of this world can look to Steve Lavin for inspiration to obliterate their habits of despair. Mr. Lavin deserves respect amid the low-brow turncoat bitterness that inhumanely was heaved at him. How many people would or could endure so much criticism, hatred, abuse, threats, pressure and not give up or quit?

It is not Mr. Lavin’s fault that he was offered the job, nor that he kept it. It was, however, Mr. Lavin’s responsibility to respond by not responding, to turn the other cheek and to praise his boss and players in the midst of the chaos. Mr. Lavin may be hated and buried by many, but his epitaph can be the words of T.J. Cummings: “I love him and so does the rest of the team. Whatever he does in life, I hope he’s successful.”

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Curtis Lowe

Tustin

UCLA’s chancellor is commanding university academic departments to identify money in their budgets that may be returned to state coffers -- 2% this year, 5% in 2003-04, and 7% the following year.

This would be a good time for the athletic department to follow suit by disbanding the men’s basketball program. The decreased attorney costs and the salary savings alone, despite Coach Steve Lavin’s gross $1.2-million golden handshake, may pay the rebate bill -- with something left over to reinstate Title IX-forfeited world-class teams such as men’s gymnastics.

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Russell Johnson

Marina del Rey

Would you guys pick on Steve Lavin if he were not sooooo cute? He gives girls a reason to watch college basketball.

I hope he comes to the NBA. It will be a welcome relief from watching Phil’s “I’m so over this” attitude.

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Grace Lang

Beverly Hills


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