The Rose Bowl. Pauley Pavillion. Adalberto “Albert” Duran’s station in Oakley’s Barber Shop.
All have hosted some of UCLA’s most legendary athletes and coaches.
Duran has been working at Oakley’s, a barbershop on Gayley Avenue in Westwood, for over 40 years and has cut the hair of widely recognized Bruin athletes and coaches such as John Wooden, Reggie Miller and Troy Aikman.
Growing up in Santa Monica, Duran was exposed to UCLA Athletics at a young age, and said he and his sister often rode bikes to UCLA and Westwood Village.
“I went to see a UCLA basketball game in 1967 and fell in love,” Duran said. “Growing up in the area and seeing the game, I became a Bruin.”
Duran said he didn’t plan on becoming a barber growing up, and he had been an avid sports fan from a very young age.
“I got my barber’s license as a favor to my stepdad who owned a shop in Sawtelle,” Duran said. “Oakley’s hired me because my father had worked with the owner and that became my career. But I really always loved sports because my mother was a die-hard Dodgers fan, and I grew up down the road from UCLA basketball in the ’60s.”
One of his customers, Billy Martin – who has served as the UCLA men’s tennis coach for 26 years – said Duran has become a staple in the community.
“I’ve been going to him forever, my kids went to him for 25 years,” Martin said. “A bunch of my players have become his regulars over the years, as well as countless other UCLA students.”
The full list of notable Bruins that have had their hair cut by Duran spans multiple decades and sports.
Duran said he has developed connections with more recent customers like former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, UCLA football coach Chip Kelly and former UCLA men’s basketball guard Norman Powell, who Duran kept in contact with during Powell’s championship run with the Toronto Raptors in June.
Duran said many of his clients often stop by the shop after they leave Westwood, recalling when Rosen received a haircut at Oakley’s after signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Even Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook often stops by to say “hi” during the offseason.
“The athletes spend their youth and college time around here,” Duran said. “For a lot of guys, they look back so fondly on this place and the people of Westwood.”
Martin said it is Duran’s amiable personality and community involvement that continue to make Duran the well-known Westwood barber that he is.
“He’s one of my favorite guys,” Martin said. “I’ve recommended a bunch of people to him over the years, and he’s done good local events, like when he was the official barber for the Los Angeles Open (tennis tournament).”
Duran said the thing that stands out to him above anything else is the support UCLA athletes and Oakley’s give one another.
“You support them because they are local athletes,” Duran said. “They like coming here because we can talk sports and watch on the TV here. We care about them and they give back to us.”
Duran has created his own UCLA community at Oakley’s, complete with photos of notable athletes and coaches on the wall of his station.
“(Kelly) came in really quickly, like, 10 days after his hire,” Duran said, as he pointed to his picture with Kelly. “Now he’s one of my customers, and he’s here every two weeks for his regular haircut.”
Duran even witnessed one of UCLA basketball’s oldest and most storied relationships – the often comical connection between Wooden and former Bruin Bill Walton.
“When Wooden told (Walton) to go get a haircut, Oakley’s is where he came,” Duran said. “It’s from the famous practice story, he left in the middle of practice, came here for a cut and ran back to practice.”
Duran also cited the amount of basketball coaches who have sat in his chair, from Wooden to Ben Howland to newly hired Mick Cronin.
He also said some of his favorites to see walk through the door were Miller and the Jack Haley, who were teammates on the UCLA men’s basketball team from 1984 to 1987.
“They would always come in together every single time,” Duran said. “They were fun-loving kids that goofed around, but I don’t think I saw them separated at all in their time here.”
Duran’s clients don’t just hail from the world of sports, though.
Actor Charles Bronson, filmmaker J.J. Abrams and professional tennis player Jack Kramer have all had the constant hair guidance of Duran.
When asked about his favorite moments, Duran was not able to narrow it down to one – he could only list dozens of stories from his four-plus decades in the barbershop.
But one of his highlights was the aftermath of the Bruins’ most recent title on the hardwood.
“I will always remember the 1995 UCLA basketball title,” Duran said. “We all came back to Oakley’s after work to watch the game. We had local people walking in, drinking, watching and celebrating like a community.”
When it came to his biggest UCLA haircut, Duran said there was only one.
“I can say I’ve cut John Wooden’s hair,” Duran said. “He’s John Wooden. You cannot go any bigger as a Bruin or really any sports fan.”