Can the house that Kareem built become the home that Shabazz renovated?
Pauley Pavilion, rather the new Pauley Pavilion, is on schedule to reopen with a $136-million renovation by mid-October, an athletic department official said during a media tour of the arena on Friday.
The refurbished digs will be inhabited by a highly publicized recruiting class, as was the case when Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965. The difference this time is that the incoming freshmen can play for the Bruins.
In 1965, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- then Lew Alcindor -- Lucius Allen and Co. entered UCLA at a time when freshmen were not allowed to play for the varsity. They had to settle for beating the varsity, the preseason No. 1-ranked team, in the first game played in Pauley Pavilion.
Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams will be UCLA freshmen in the fall and will play in the first game in renovated Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 9. Like Abdul-Jabbar in 1965, Muhammad, a high-flying small forward, is considered by many to be the top high school player in the nation.
“They seem to have put together a great class of student-athletes,” said former UCLA forward Kiki Vandeweghe, who tagged along on the tour. Pauley Pavilion and UCLA basketball have the greatest traditions.”
The renovated arena will have more bathrooms and concession stands as well as a statue of legendary coach John Wooden. The capacity has gone from 12,002 to 13,002. The design inside should increase the noise, something Bruins Coach Ben Howland requested, according to Associate Athletic Director Ken Weiner.
“Pauley Pavilion was the center of the basketball world when I was growing up,” said Vandeweghe, who attended Palisades High and played at UCLA from 1976-80. “As a kid, I used to sneak into practices there all the time. I probably hold the record for being kicked out of there.”
But Vandeweghe said that the arena was less the draw than the team … and will be now as well.
“They have done a fantastic job with Pauley Pavilion,” Vandeweghe said. “But at the end of the day, you've got to win games.”
That's where Muhammad and Co. could come in handy.