Long-winded Pastor Dampens Wooden Memorial

Some people don’t know when to shut up, especially when cameras are rolling. So it was with Pastor Dudley Rutherford, who blathered on a numbing 18 minutes during the televised John Wooden memorial service at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on Saturday.

Just to put that in perspective, Rutherford talked more than twice as long as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Vin Scully (who appeared via video) combined. Moreover, at an event that was a tribute to the late UCLA basketball coach’s remarkable life, Rutherford engaged in a rather lengthy treatise about Jesus Christ being the only path to Heaven and salvation — hardly the venue, frankly, for that sort of sermonizing, given the wide variety of people who attended the session at a public university.

Rutherford’s heart was no doubt in the right place, but it’s hard to imagine he didn’t know the ground rules going in with a 90-minute TV window. His excess put a damper on an otherwise moving day, which closed with a 19-minute film consisting entirely of Wooden’s own reflections on his life and philosophy. Al Michaels — who was the Bruins’ play-by-play man at the end of Wooden’s storied coaching career — opened and closed the presentation.

Rutherford might be a lovely guy, but TV cameras have a funny way of bringing out the egomaniacal worst in people. This sure felt like one of those moments.

Full disclosure: I attended the event in person and TiVo-ed the
telecast. As a consequence it wasn’t until later that I realized the tape cut off
about halfway through the tribute film because of Rutherford’s long-windedness. Since I was there, no big deal, but hopefully others who might have recorded the telecast were wise enough to add some extra time to their DVR.

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