Don’t be fooled by the jazzy college garb. Shabazz Muhammad is still absorbed in the life of an overindulged, me-first AAU hotshot.
The most relevant offshoot from UCLA’s riveting win over Washington wasn’t Larry Drew’s timely heroics or even the outcome of the game itself. Sorry Bruins fans, but after a home loss to lowly USC on Reggie Miller night, last-second wins over mediocre opponents don’t change the tenor of a season.
Thursday night’s signature moment at a deserted Pauley Pavilion — here’s to that world-class renovation! — materialized as the game’s final play was in formation. It reached a boil seconds after Drew’s mid-range pull-up swished when his teammate, the star Bruin shut out of the play, responded selfishly by shunning the team’s sideline celebration.
Muhammad didn’t touch the ball on the final possession due to no fault of his own. He voraciously tried, begged and pleaded for one last touch. The UCLA freshman did, however, put a damper on an otherwise satisfying Bruins win by revealing his true colors–those being something other than the powder blue and gold.
As if he didn’t already hoist enough shots throughout the contest — Muhammad finished just 8-of-23 from the floor — the sure-fire one-and-done scoring ace felt visibly entitled to the game-winning attempt. Bazz is unmistakably the go-to guy on the Bruins, the only player short of Jordan Adams capable of creating his own shot on a consistent basis. But with Scott Suggs, Washington’s best on-ball defender, shadowing Muhammad across his circuitous journey to get open, Drew III made precisely the right basketball play.
According to everyone other than Muhammad, that is. The result notwithstanding, Bazz still believes that was his shot to take.