Rekindling childhood memories

By Doug Gorman

Saturday afternoon I will sit in front of the television to watch the University of Louisville play Kentucky in a men's basketball game.

It's sort of a family tradition. I grew up cheering for the University of Louisville and despised anything having to do with the University of Kentucky.

Sports fans in the Bluegrass State, view this basketball game like sports fans in Georgia view the Georgia and Georgia Tech football game. In other words, fans from both schools regarded it as life and death. Win it and you have bragging rights for the next year.

Watching the University of Louisville made me fall in love with the game of college basketball.

I loved the way Darrell Griffith could dunk the basketball. Guys like Jerry Eaves, Rodney and Scooter McCoy and Milt Wager were my basketball idols, and boy could they work magic with the ball.

The outcome of every Louisville game was important to me until I was about 16 years old and had moved to Georgia .

But I never got to witness first hand Kentucky and Louisville play each other. For years, the two schools never played in the regular season.

It took intervention by the state legislation to finally get the schools on the same floor again starting in 1984. Thankfully, they have played every year since with some interesting outcomes.

When I was living in Louisville back in the late 1970s, Kentucky fans always seemed to have an snobbish attitude when it came to their view of the University of Louisville.

Many Kentucky fans scoffed at idea that the University of Louisville could hold its own against their mighty Wildcats even though former Louisville coach Denny Crum seemed to always win 20 games, take Louisville to the NCAA tournament, and oh yeah, win a couple of national titles, including in 1980 when they beat an UCLA team coached by Larry Brown.

As a Louisville fan, I use to get so mad at Kentucky fans that I would tell them if their star point guard Kyle Macy blew his nose a film crew would be on hand to record it for the 11 o'clock news.

I never liked many Kentucky fans view that if you were a Louisville fan you were a second-class citizen. I just wanted the two teams to play.

Although Kentucky has a 23-12 edge in the series, it's always great basketball. Once the two teams started playing again it's been a great series loaded with some irony due to the fact the current Louisville coach Rick Pitino has served as head coach at both schools. His move to Louisville has made many Kentucky fans regard Pitino as a traitor.

I guess I can understand Kentucky fans' and their thinking. No sport fans likes to see one of their former coaches or players wind up in enemy territory, even though Pitino had a gap between college coaching jobs when he went to the NBA.

This game could be a classic. Both teams bring 6-1 records into the game, and both squads are ranked in the Top-25.

I don't have the same dislike I had for Kentucky years ago. My sister married a die-hard Kentucky fan, so I have tried to say an occasional nice thing about his Wildcats.

That doesn't mean my brother and law David has converted me.

I'll be pulling for Louisville again Saturday. Just like I did when I was a child.

I'm sure I'll also be reminded again why I love college basketball.

(Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. His column runs on Fridays. He can be e-mailed at dgorman@news-daily.com )