Memories of March Madness with Aaron Afflalo
By Stephanie Lovell
It’s been more than a decade since he played collegiately, but Arron Affalo still vividly remembers his days suiting up in UCLA blue and gold.
“One of the years was my last year of school, so it was bittersweet,” the veteran Sacramento Kings guard said recently to Golden1Center.com. “One of the years we went to the championship game and lost, so I think for every player it’s a little bit different.”
Afflalo was fortunate to play in the NCAA Tournament all three years of his Bruin career. He led UCLA to unforgettable and deep runs during the 2006 and 2007 tournaments.
“We had an amazing comeback win my sophomore year in the Sweet Sixteen against Gonzaga, who was a favorite team to make the Final Four,” he said. “We ended up going all the way to the championship that year and losing. But that was probably one of our most emotional games, just being down 16 in the tournament and coming back and winning.”
Looking back, Afflalo notes that there are a few key indicators for success in the NCAA Tournament. Being physically and mentally prepared for the hardships one endures during the trying madness of March is one of them.
“It’s all preparation,” he said. “It’s one game at a time, unlike professional sports. It’s not a series so it’s just about being smart, focused, and taking advantage of the moment. Being inspired and ready to play.”
For his performance, Afflalo was named the West Regional’s Most Outstanding Player in 2007. To this day, he is still grateful for the Tournament experience.
“March Madness is fun,” Afflalo reflected. “I mean it’s a one-game elimination thing. It’s kind of a clean slate for every college team involved to have a great run, at the right time. I was fortunate enough to make two Final Fours and it’s a very good experience.”