There have been a lot of special guests at Rupp Arena over the years, but few could top Wednesday night when former UK All-American Pat Riley was on hand to watch his alma-mater on Kentucky's "Senior Night".
It was 40 years ago when Riley and "Rupp's Runts" lost the 1966 NCAA championship game to Texas Western. Riley admitted that the approaching 40 year anniversary "freaks him out".
"It teaches you how to appreciate the fact that you've lived 40 years since a very significant moment in your life," Riley said. "It's been a great 40 years, and a lot of it has to do with what happened here."
Riley received a huge applause when he walked to center court at Rupp Arena to do the "Y" in the K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y cheer. He is considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA, and he says he owes it all to his coach at UK, calling Adolph Rupp "a master".
"Everything I did as a coach was modeled after coach Rupp's practices," Riley said. "We ran different drills and ran a different offense and defense, but I was like, 'Don't waste my time. You get there early, and you leave late, all those things."
"Coach Rupp really taught me philosophies about practice and about repetition."
Riley admitted that he misses coaching, and that he admires Tubby Smith.
"All of Tubby's teams, ever since he's been here, they have an incredible work ethic. They defend. They get after you. They play hard. It's really a testament to him and his coaching and to the tradition of Kentucky."
Even though it's been nearly 40 years since Riley wore a Kentucky jersey, he still feels like a Wildcat.
"If you take all the good things from Kentucky, especially if you're a basketball player, and I think you're gonna be successful in life."
LEMOND: Pat Riley remembers his roots at UK
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