WESTWOOD, Calif.–A funeral will be held Friday for Edgar Lacey, a starting forward on UCLA’s 1965 NCAA championship team who quit the squad in 1968 after being benched during a landmark game against Houston.
Lacey died last week at the age of 66, said UCLA Sports Information Director Marc Dellins, who did not have further details.
The funeral will be held 10 a.m. Friday at Calvary Chapel in Downey, located at 12808 Woodruff Ave.
Lacey was a high school All-American and Los Angeles City Section Player of the Year in 1963 while playing for Jefferson High School.
In an era when freshmen were not eligible for varsity play, Lacey averaged 22.9 points and 19 rebounds per game helping the Bruins freshmen team to a 19-1 record during the 1963-64 season.
Lacey was a starting forward on UCLA’s 1965 championship team, averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 10.2 rebounds.
In the 1965-66 season, Lacey averaged 13.6 points and 9.1 rebounds, but missed the final eight games because of a knee injury.
Lacey broke a kneecap before the start of the 1966-67 season, and missed the entire season.
Lacey was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1967, but opted to return to UCLA for another season.
Lacey quit the team after the Bruins’ 71-69 loss to Houston on Jan. 20, 1968 in what was dubbed as college basketball’s “Game of the Century.”
Lacey began the game guarding future Hall of Fame forward Elvin Hayes and was removed from the game with about 11 minutes to play in the first half and did not return.
Hayes who scored 10 points when guarded by Lacey, finished the game with 39 points to key the end of UCLA’s 47-game winning streak and hand Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) the first defeat of his college career.
The matchup between the top two teams in the Associated Press poll was the first regular-season college basketball game to be televised nationwide in prime time and is credited with boosting the sport’s popularity.
Lacey quit the team three days later, telling the Los Angeles Times “I’ve never enjoyed playing for that man,” referring to coach John Wooden.
“(The Houston game) was the last straw,” Lacey said. “It all started in my sophomore year when he tried to change the mechanics of my shooting.
“And now I have no one to blame but myself for staying this long. He has sent people by to persuade me to reconsider, but I have nothing to reconsider. I’m glad I’m getting out now while I still have some of my pride, my sanity and my self-esteem left.”
Wooden told The Times he thought Lacey should return to the team.
“I have never said anything but that he’s the best forward we have,” Wooden said. “I wish he’d think it over. Regardless of how he feels about me, I do care about him.”
In September 1968, Lacey signed with the Los Angeles Stars of the American Basketball Association, who outbid the Los Angeles Lakers for his services. When he signed with the Stars, Lacey said that throughout his high school and college careers his last name was spelled wrong and should be spelled Lacy.
Lacey played one season with the Stars, averaging 5.1 points in 46 games, then retired to go to law school.