Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea is famous for his love of L.A. basketball, being a long-time and hardcore supporter of the Los Angeles Lakers alongside RHCP singer Anthony Kiedis (Midwestern-born drummer Chad Smith keeps it real by supporting Detroit teams after growing up in Michigan).
Flea also has much affection for the hometown UCLA Bruins basketball program, showing up at the team’s season opener last week to play the National Anthem, coinciding with the grand reopening of Pauley Pavilion, the on-campus facility where the Bruins play home games.
The game had also been billed as the big welcoming party for top UCLA recruit Shabazz Muhammad, but the festivities were decidedly muted after the NCAA declared Muhammad ineligible for the opener at the last minute after determining that he “accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits” to two different schools during the recruitment process, according to USA Today.
Flea showed his support by wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “Free Shabazz Muhammad” written across the front of it during his performance.
“We are extremely disappointed that the NCAA has made this determination,” UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “We believe the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz.”
Muhammad has been declared ineligible for an undisclosed number of games for the alleged violations, although reports indicate it could be as many as ten missed contests.
Flea recently celebrated his 50th birthday with a special Red Hot Chili Peppers benefit concert in his own backyard with special guests Rancid. He’s also gearing up for the long-awaited release of the debut album of his other band, Atoms for Peace with Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, early next year.
–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local