In an effort to promote history and tradition—exclusively of the University of Kentucky Wildcats variety–on this site, I plan to start posting some of my favorite classic articles and essays written on Kentucky Basketball. As the title of this post implies, these lessons will happen–without fail or compromise–every Thursday. As of now, my favorite place to look is in the Sports Illustrated Vault, a web haven that houses some of the best sports writing, UK Basketball or not, over the past half-century.
This Thursday’s piece, entitled, “Defeat and Failure to Me Are Enemies,” is one written by Adolph Rupp himself (although definitely with the help of one of SI’s award-winning writers—I’m not saying Rupp couldn’t write, but this is some highbrow shit), on the philosophies, practices, and sprit of Kentucky Basketball, circa 1958.
“In Basketball, as in all phases of human endeavor, there are certain laws that govern and regulate the pattern that measures success and failure. In the business world there have been many men of outstanding talents who have molded large corporations into world leadership. This is true in religion, in education and also in sports. The philosophy that has governed the lives of the boys here at the University of Kentucky in the past 28 years may not have been different from that which has been employed elsewhere, but its application may have been better.”
“There are certain things that we believe are necessary in order to develop a great team. We here at the University of Kentucky are fortunate. We have a great basketball tradition. Almost every boy in this area lives for the day when he can come to the University of Kentucky and represent it on the hardwood. We have been doubly fortunate in that 87%, of the boys who have lettered here in basketball in the past 28 years have been native sons of Kentucky. We want boys who have determined that they would like to come to our university. We feel that every boy who puts on a Kentucky uniform just plays a little better than he would in one of another color. A school rich in tradition is fortunate indeed.”
And, just because I really want you to read this, another:
“I was greatly amused at a sports-writer who visited us here this past winter. He came out to watch our practice. My boys shot their free throws, took their warmup practice shots and then went to our fundamental drills and to our organized play. When the practice was over, the sportswriter said, “Don’t these boys ever talk?” I said, “Yes, they talk occasionally, but it is generally understood out there that no one is to speak unless he can improve on the silence!” He said, “Don’t your boys ever have any fun?” I said, “Yes, they have as much fun, or more, than any other players. Why should boys constantly chatter in a class in basketball any more than they do in a class in English? Why should they whistle and sing? I don’t believe that you can get the maximum efficiency from a boy and have his undivided attention whenever you have a lot of noise at a practice session.”