By all accounts, whatever has gone on in the O'Bannon home has been good preparation for Pac-10 play. Ed Sr., a UPS driver, remembers delivering a tiny basketball to each toddler's crib. He kept his instructions simple. "All I ever said to Ed was, 'Don't shoot underhand.' " So you see the problem. These O'Bannon boys have been playing since they were two and fighting through forearm shivers ever after.
But except for that little bit of coaching and some anxious defense under the boards, Ed Sr. never went nuts over his kids' careers. It was enough for him to see that they truly loved the game. "I'm not saying it was their first words," he says. "But I do remember them saying 'Shoot the hoops' as babies."
A little later Ed Sr. put a hoop up in the driveway, and the O'Bannon yard became a rec center. There would be crowds of 20 loitering to sec the neighborhood's best pickup games, which, for the sake of fairness to everyone but Charles, always paired one O'Bannon against the other. The neighbors didn't care much for all the noise, but Ed Sr. never minded. "At least I knew where my kids were," he says. It was that kind of family.
However, as Ed approached junior high, he began to get a little too creative with his dunking. Says Ed Sr., "Breakaway rims were not yet a home-purchase item." So he retired the hoop, and then, because he felt the area near Compton in which the O'Bannons were living was taking a turn for the worse, he retired the neighborhood and moved his brood to Lakewood.
Since then the O'Bannon brother act has moved along to increasingly better venues and has attracted more and more attention. If the Bruins continue to win, this might not be regional theater much longer. The wishful thinking at UCLA is that the O'Bannons, together again, are now ready to tour. You know the angle: Brother acts that have played the NCAA tournament....