UCLA Great Steve Patterson Dies

July 29, 2004

Steve Patterson, a member of three (1969-70-71) UCLA men's basketball NCAA Championship teams and the starting center on two (1970-71) of those squads, has died from lung cancer. He was 56.Patterson's family said he died Wednesday (July 28) at his Phoenix home. He had been undergoing radiation treatment after being diagnosed with cancer on June 30.'We so appreciate all of the kindness' extended to Steve, me and the family during this time of struggle,' his wife, Carlette, said in a statement posted on his Web page.Patterson, a 6-9, 217 pound center, known for his defense and rebounding, played for three seasons (1969-71) under legendary Bruin head coach John Wooden. As a sophomore in 1969, he played behind senior Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). He averaged 5.0 points and 3.9 rebounds as the Bruins won their fifth NCAA title and were 29-1 overall.With Alcindor's departure, Patterson for the next two years (1970-71) became UCLA's starting center. Teaming with guard Henry Bibby and forwards Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe, the Bruins won two more NCAA Championships. As a junior in 1970, Patterson averaged 12.5 points and 10.0 rebounds and the Bruins were 28-2 overall. As a senior, Patterson averaged 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds, helping to lead UCLA to a 29-1 overall record and the school's fifth consecutive NCAA title.In his last game, a 68-62 victory over Villanova in the Houston Astrodome before 31,765 (at the time a record) to win the 1971 NCAA Championship on March 27, 1971, Patterson scored a career-high 29 points (including 13-18 from the field/he scored 20 in the first half) and added eight rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes of play. He was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.In the game article by Dwight Chapin in the Los Angeles Times the next day following UCLA's NCAA title win over Villanova, Chapin wrote about Patterson -Well maybe it was his (Patterson's) night-before -the -game meal. Patterson went out with his parents to one of Houston's finest seafood restaurants and ordered trout.'I thought that was a little unusual at the time,' said Steve's father, Bob Patterson, 'but now I guess it isn't.'Something also went along with the trout.'I had a little vin rose wine, too,' said Steve, winking. 'Maybe that's what did it.' A big man with a big appetite, Patterson was also known among his teammates for holding the record of 'most hamburgers eaten' at the Apple Pan Restaurant, a well-known, long-time eatery in west Los Angeles - 14 at one sitting. During Patterson's three-year Bruin career, UCLA won three NCAA Championships (the school's fifth, sixth and seventh national titles) and three Pacific-8 crowns (39-3 league record, including 14-0 in 1971) and had an overall record of 86-4. Patterson starred for the Bruin freshman team in 1966-67, averaging 21.9 points and 20.2 rebounds and redshirted in 1967-68. He prepped at Santa Maria, CA HS, where he earned All-America high school honors and in 1966 was named All-Southern California CIF Player of the Year.Following his Bruin career, Patterson was a second-round pick of Cleveland in the 1971 NBA draft and played four seasons with the Cavaliers before ending his pro career with the Chicago Bulls in 1975-76. During his five-year pro career, he appeared in 350 games and averaged 4.4 points and 4.7 rebounds.From 1985-89, Patterson was the men's head basketball coach at Arizona State and had a 48-56 record. During his tenure at ASU, Patterson defeated his alma mater once in Pauley Pavilion, coaching the Sun Devils to a 67-64 victory in 1987.He later served as chairman for the Phoenix area's Super Bowl committee in 1996 and was hired as commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association in 1997. In recent years, Patterson had focused on youth and community sports programs in Arizona.Visitation will take place on Sunday (Aug. 1) from 2-7 p.m. at the Whitney and Murphy Arcadia Funeral Home, 4800 East Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ, 85018 (602-840-5600) and the memorial service will be Monday (Aug. 2) at the Valley Presbyterian Church Sanctuary, 6947 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ, 85253 (480-991-6424). Donations can be sent to - thegoal.com, c/o Dave Hood, at Pro Athletes Outreach, P. O. Box 1044, Issaquah, WA, 98027.Steven John Patterson was born June 24, 1948. He is survived by his wife, Carlette and five children - John, Brent, Amanda, Sara and Makena; his mother, Jean Patterson; two brothers, Bob and Tim and their families.*AP in Phoenix also contributed to this story