Print and Go Back College Basketball Nation [Print without images]

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Classic UCLA center circle up for auction

By Eamonn Brennan

If I had the ability to code a Drudge-style blue-and-gold siren aimed solely at UCLA alums with massive amounts of cash to burn, that siren would be flashing bold and bright in this blog post at this very moment. Because if you're a UCLA alumni who also happens to be a basketball fan (that's easy!) and massively rich (OK, not so easy), the time to act is now.

On April 15, an undisclosed UCLA alumni decided to auction off one of the coolest and therefore most expensive pieces of memorabilia in Bruins history. The object at hand is the classic powder-blue UCLA center circle from the original Pauley Pavilion floor, the nexus of the John Wooden era. It's as iconic as college hoops collector's items come, and that's why, according to SCP Auctions, the bidding for the center circle had already reached $94,948 by Tuesday afternoon. The signatures of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Wooden himself certainly aren't hurting the value.

You don't have to be a Bruins die-hard to salivate over the rumpus-room possibilities available here. Wall-space is a requirement, of course -- the thing is 12-feet in diameter -- but nothing on your walls at present deserves to take precedence over this. It's the basement game-room addition to end all basement game-room additions. There's no topping this level of awesomeness. It's "if-I-won-the-lottery"-level stuff for any college hoops fan.

Then again, if UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero had his way, the original Pauley center court wouldn't be gracing anyone's pool hall in the years to come. According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Guerrero is "disappointed" that the anonymous UCLA alum -- widely believed to be the ex-wife of a former Bruin All-American point guard who bought the court after it was discovered sitting in storage in a campus warehouse -- isn't doing more to ensure the court returns to UCLA to be displayed alongside the Wooden den archives at the soon-to-be-renovated Pauley Pavilion in the decades to come.
"We are extremely disappointed to hear that the original center circle from Pauley Pavilion has been put up for auction," Guerrero said. "We have made numerous attempts to reacquire the center circle from the current owner but were rebuffed on every try. We even had a donor ready to make a donation to the owner's charity of choice. The center circle belongs on display at new Pauley Pavilion and we are hopeful that we will be able to work out an arrangement with the new owner to bring this important piece of UCLA basketball history back to its home."

Of course, there's still the possibility that the highest bidder in this week's auction will choose to donate the court back to UCLA, or will make some arrangement for a reasonable transfer of ownership. That might be the right thing to do. Then again, while "I donated the center circle back to UCLA" is a pretty neat thing to say, it pales in comparison to "every day I wake up, get dressed for work, and slap my powder-blue UCLA center circle on my way out the door, you guys totally have to come check this thing out."

In any case, here's your heads up, wealthy Bruins fans. The auction is set to end at 7 p.m. Saturday, so get your six-figure bids in now. Which would you rather have: All that money or the center circle? Choose wisely. After all, it's just money.