UCLA Teammates Join Movement To “Free Shabazz” Muhammad

It hasn’t been a good weekend for UCLA basketball. On Friday, the NCAA declared top recruit Shabazz Muhammad ineligible for financing on unofficial visits it said doesn’t add up. Tuesday night, the Bruins needed a UC Irvine player to miss two free throws in the final seconds of regulation just to force overtime, where UCLA won. But back to Muhammad: After makeshift T-shirts popped up Friday during the season-opener to “Free Shabazz Muhammad” — as worn by the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea during the national anthem — the movement continued Tuesday and included UCLA teammates Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams. All three are part of the touted freshman class that includes Muhammad, a player we already have pegged in the top 10 of the 2013 NBA Draft.

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The improved Bruin-blue shirts with Muhammad’s face, seen in the student section, made its way to the court during warm-ups. No pictures are available via Twitter or elsewhere of the shirts of the Bruins, sadly. But tweets from the win over UC Irvine, many from Los Angeles Times reporter Baxter Holmes, tell about the reaction to the shirts — which are essentially, who, us?




UCLA will dutifully tell the freshmen not to wear the shirts again and that will be that, but AD Dan Guerrero and coach Ben Howland are, by all accounts, furious at both the suspension and its timing. The NCAA announced Muhammad would be held out just hours before Friday’s game — which was the first game back in Pauley Pavilion since its $136 million renovation. A night of celebration that was even played against the school John Wooden coached at before arriving in Westwood would be partially remembered for something else.

Here’s one question: If UCLA truly wants to “expeditiously pursue its options” and free Shabazz Muhammad, why hasn’t it even filed an appeal yet with the NCAA? I understand the program is waiting on official word on his suspension’s length (some outlets are reporting 10 games), but this is the NCAA, which in nearly every case moves as fast as Oliver Miller.

Muhammad will be home free into the NBA at the end of this season should he choose — Brandon Jennings and Kyrie Irving have shown a full college season is not a prerequisite for the NBA Lottery. UCLA can plead that it’s doing the right thing for the player, but it really needs an appeal for its sagging program and Howland’s job security after going 56-43 the past three seasons. In the meantime, however, Muhammad stays ineligible and an ever-growing folk hero in Westwood.

What do you think?

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