I know for sure I have been to 4 UofL-UK basketball games. It could be a couple more, but I am not positive. I have only been to the games at Freedom Hall. I don’t remember anything about 1 of them, but as I sit here and think, there is something funny about the 3 that I do remember very well. They all have 1 letter in common and you know exactly what game I am talking about: “S”. Samaki, Sparks, Sosa.I was 8 years old for the “Samaki” game. I have never had to look at the score since that day to remember that it was 88-86 Cards, and it was January 1, 1995. I think I have actually only seen the game on tape once since that day. I just remember Samaki getting a lot of blocks, and I feel like one of them was on Jeff Sheppard late in the game, but I could be wrong. Even at 8 years old, I knew when I got to the arena with my mom, something was different about that game. The atmosphere before the game was just on another level. So much red, with blue scattered in, everyone on their feet for warmups, every point scored or shot missed sounded like it was to win or lose the game. That was one of my top 3 games of all time that I have ever been to.
The 1 game I really don’t remember much of was 2 years later. All I remember is we got beat by 20. Remember, I am only 10 years old at this one, so I am sorry if I don’t remember every detail all the time. 🙂
Ah, the “Sparks” game. I think that game was at noon, and I got a call around 10:30 that morning saying I had a ticket. I went with former assistant women’s basketball coach, Greg Collins (I was a practice player for the WBB team when I was at UofL). I remember Rondo was playing in that game, and for some reason our crowd or students would boo him. Coach and I agreed that it did not make sense. Rondo WANTED to play at UofL. In fact, he and Chris Lofton (Mr. B-ball from KY, went to Tennessee) both wanted to play at UofL. But we went after Telfair. Anyways….I know the score was 32-16 UofL at half, and Palacios and Ellis Myles were having good games down low. Then Rondo gave us a reason to boo when he poked Palacios in the eye, forcing the goggles and altering his career (well, sort of). Feel like I am rambling, I will get to the point. UK comes back, Freedom Hall is so tense, and I am thinking there is no way we can let this happen. Garcia hit a big shot to put us up 2 (I think) and then it happened. Kelenna Azubuike pulls up from deep, and I think there is no way he makes the shot. Well, he dumps it off to little Sparks, who proceeds to do the Sparks Shuffle, and you know the rest…
For the “Sosa” game, I went again with my mom and we sat 2 rows behind UofL’s bench. I can always see us on the replays of Sosa’s shot. Of course, somehow 2 UK fans ended up right next to me, yes 2 rows behind UofL’s bench. They are everywhere! I love that Sosa was the one to make the shot, because our own fans gave him a very hard time in his 4 years here, and I always defended him, as I usually will with any UofL player. Plus I think he was the last player any UK fan would want hitting that shot, making it that much sweeter.