NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 24: Reeves Nelson #22 of the UCLA Bruins keeps the ball in play against the Villanova Wildcats during their preseason NIT semifinal at Madison Square Garden on November 24 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Recruiting Reeves Nelson is turning out to be the worst decision of Ben Howland's career.
UCLA basketball had to spend a week in full damage control after the expose on Howland's program was penned by George Dohrmann of Sports Illustrated. Chief among the culprits was Nelson, who was the recipient of some unflattering accusations. Although the Bruins committed nothing illegal, it was a grave embarrassment to a university that prides itself on its basketball legacy.
Now, Nelson's lawsuit threatens to really cause UCLA long-term damage. Regardless of whether Nelson wins or loses the suit, the Bruins could get a lot of dirty laundry on their program aired out.
Here are some thoughts from Melvin Avanzado from the Entertainment Litigation Blog.
[I]f my prediction is correct -- and Nelson survives the initial motions in the case -- the case will take more than a year before a trial is likely -- even longer, if interim appeals are taken from the decision on the anti-SLAPP motion.
In the meantime, current and former players and staff on the UCLA men's basketball team will be reliving Nelson's career at UCLA in depositions -- and probably in the press. Frankly, that's an era of UCLA basketball that fans (and probably the team) would rather forget.
If a settlement doesn't come quickly, then this process could take ages. As many as 16 people, including prominent Bruins on the court and maybe even athletic director Dan Guerrero, could end up getting summoned. Depositions of such prominent figures could take many months, and could lead to plenty of other unflattering information leaked to the press about Howland's program. This is exactly the last thing UCLA wants to deal with when they seem on the verge of recovering and rebuilding. (Lord knows what happens if Nelson actually loses the settlement.)
There could be a lot of pain ahead for the Bruins. They'll just have to hope the shine of the past can overcome the clouds of the present.