If Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea had any concerns about what kind of reception he'd get at UCLA after taking classes at USC a few years ago, he found the ideal way to ensure he'd receive nothing but cheers.
Flea walked onto the court at Pauley Pavilion on Friday night to sing the national anthem clad in a baby blue shirt with the words "Free Shabazz Muhammad" written on it in black marker. The shirt, of course, was in reference to the NCAA's decision to declare the highly touted UCLA freshman indefinitely ineligible earlier in the evening as a result of extra benefits he accepted during his recruitment.
Give Flea credit for being in touch with the mood of the UCLA fan base because he wasn't the only one to express such a sentiment
A smattering of UCLA students in the student section at newly renovated Pauley Pavilion donned "Free Shabazz" shirts with his likeness on the front. And the entire section launched into a "Free Shabazz" chant in the second half of the Bruins' lopsided 86-59 rout of Indiana State.
Even UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero sounded off a bit in an unusually strongly worded statement in response to the NCAA's decision.
"We are extremely disappointed that the NCAA has made this determination," Guerrero wrote. He later added, "We believe the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz. UCLA will expeditiously pursue its options to challenge this determination."
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