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A Bruin's First Trip To Cameron

A Wooden-era Bruin marvels at Cameron Indoor.

Cameron is a one-of-a-kind experience
Cameron is a one-of-a-kind experience
Streeter Lecka

Like your FSU guy, this was my first time in the Indoor Stadium, made possible by longtime friends who finally landed seats last year (the wife even sacrificed and watched at home so that I could have the experience). I flew down from Southern New Jersey, and it was worth every penny.

I'm a Bruin. Longtime Bruin. In a past life, it seems, I interviewed John Wooden for the UCLA alumni magazine. I was a season-ticket holder at Pauley in the 1970s. More than anything, that's what came back to me at Cameron.

To me, there's nothing like college basketball. The closed arena, the bands, the students, the rituals. Pauley in the '70s was like Cameron today, filled to the brim, never an empty seat, the roars when the players first come on the court, the ovations for the coach. In those days, there wasn't much TV, so there weren't TV timeouts (an important tool for Wooden, who tried to make the opposition cry uncle by calling the first timeout), and as a result, there wasn't as much orchestrated mayhem, though parallel madness.

I've been to a half-dozen final fours, seen college basketball in all parts of the country. I'll never forget my night at Cameron. Thanks to the students, the Crazies, who believe in their team and give their all for them. Thanks to the players who, despite a lousy shooting night, played the kind of D we've come to expect from Duke. And thanks to Duke for not succumbing, for maintaining this little bandbox arena rather than building some temple of excess, for recognizing that college basketball is America's greatest spectator sport and that Cameron today has no peers as a place to watch it.

Joel Gardner

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