Greg Lee this; UCLA basketball player under John Wooden who became a beach volleyball star

Greg Lee once described the dominance of his UCLA basketball teams by saying that if he played a perfect match, they would win by 50 points instead of 40.

It wasn’t an exaggeration. Those Bruins won the national championships in 1972 and ’73 under the leadership of coach John Wooden, while impressing most with a record of 88 straight wins that would end the following season.

A 6-foot-5 brain guard known for lobbing big man Bill Walton, Lee was mostly a complementary piece as he was surrounded by seven future NBA players. He started his first two seasons on the varsity team before stepping off the bench as a senior.

But his greatest professional achievement came on sand, not hardwood, as he split his time between basketball and volleyball careers. Lee won a record 13 consecutive professional beach volleyball tournament titles from 1975 to 1976 alongside partner Jim Menges, another former Bruin. Lee said one of the things that led him to volleyball was having a bigger impact on the team’s performance than him.

“If I played bad volleyball, I was out of there,” Lee once told the Times. “If you made a mistake, you were history.”

After years of declining health, Lee died Wednesday in a San Diego hospital from an infection related to an immune disorder, his older brother Jon said. Hey what 70.

Greg Lee had battled many health problems in his later years, including neuropathy and a heart valve that required replacement.

“He had a glorious first nine,” Jon Lee said of his brother’s life, “but the second nine was full of problems.”

UCLA basketball coach John Wooden listens to Greg Lee, who left during a hiatus against Iowa on January 17, 1974, in Chicago.

UCLA basketball coach John Wooden listens to Greg Lee, who left during a hiatus against Iowa on January 17, 1974, in Chicago.

(Associated Press)

Greg Lee grew up in the San Fernando Valley and played at Reseda High for his father, Marvin, a former UCLA center under coach Wilbur Johns. Greg Lee was his high school senior farewell and two-time Los Angeles City Section Player of the Year, making him a natural recruit for the Bruins. Last month, he was selected to be inducted into the City Section Hall of Fame.

Unlike Menges, his eventual professional volleyball partner who won two national championships at UCLA, Lee did not play the sport while in college. The duo met while playing beach volleyball with friends in 1972 and they collaborated on occasion before playing together full-time when their respective college careers came to an end.

Their streak of 13 consecutive tournament wins was later matched by two other former Bruins: Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes.

Lee’s professional basketball career included short stops with the ABA San Diego Conquistadors and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, where he reunited in Walton. Lee also played four seasons in West Germany.

Subsequently, he taught accelerated math and coached basketball for many years at Clairemont High in San Diego, the school that inspired Cameron Crowe’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”.

Lee leaves behind his wife, Lisa, son Ethan and daughter Jessamyn Feves as well as his brother. They were all at his bedside in the hospital this week, Lisa holding his hand while Ethan played Neil Young’s song “Thrasher” on his guitar, Greg singing together in a haze of drugs until he passed out for the last. time.