Taylor's Thoughts - a trip down Memorial lane

A strip of wood now sits in my office. It's not some ordinary piece of hickory passed down from the family tree to mark a special occasion or event. Instead, it's a piece from the original basketball court at Memorial Coliseum. Dan Hall (KSRDan) of Rockfield managed to snag some pieces when it was torn up to make room for a new hardwood surface last week.

Dan Hall (KSRDan) of Rockfield managed to snag some pieces when it was torn up to make room for a new hardwood surface last week. Hall got the piece that now is in my possession from a construction worker on the Avenue of Champions.

At first glance, the board is just an old plank that was placed on the coliseum floor when it officially opened in 1950 and served as home to the Kentucky Wildcats for 27 years. It could be resembled to something found in the woods with the exception of the glossy coating that sets it apart from any other plank.

It has aged somewhat and has several streak marks embedded in the film that covers the original hardwood.

Although I'm way too young to remember the first and last game ever played by the Wildcats in the facility, one can just imagine who walked over that particular piece of wood.

One of the first figures who comes to mind is Adolph Rupp. Wonder if he sat on that piece of wood while he was coaching? Wonder if he drew up a play on that spot? Wonder if his footsteps ever touched the particular plank?

What about Harry Lancaster, Bill Spivey, Frank Ramsey, Vernon Hatton, Pat Riley, Cotton Nash, Guy Strong, Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, Larry Stamper, Jim Andrews, Kevin Grevey, Mike Flynn or Rick Robey?

You can't help but think of the blood sweat and tears that could have dripped on the particular surface or the countless players who dribbled and ran on the court while it was in use by the Wildcats.

On that very floor, Kentucky didn't lose a game for the first three years and lost just nine times in the first decade.

Chances are, Rupp's footprints are there somewhere, since he's one of only two coaches who spent more time on the court than any in the history of a gymnasium, built in memory of 10,000 Kentuckians who died in World War I and in the Korean Conflict.

During Kentucky's 26-year stay in the coliseum, the Wildcats compiled an impressive 306-38 record in a building known as the "white elephant."

The piece of hardwood is a treasure that would otherwise be considered a piece of wood to the casual observer.

Closer examination reveals otherwise. It's a piece of history.

Thanks, Dan.


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