Farewell Freedom Hall...we're movin' on up

Well we're movin on up,
To the riverside.
To a deluxe arena in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the riverside.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

No more caramel corn stinkin';
Hot Dogs burnin' on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin',
Just to get up that hill.
Now that we're up in the big East,
Gettin' our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
There ain't nothin wrong with that.

Well we're movin on up,
To the riverside.
To a deluxe arena in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the riverside.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

" I'm ready for that new-arena smell. It sure beats eau-de-Freedom Hall "

Last year I purchased a new car. I had been driving a mid-90's Ford Contour since high school (~10 years). It wasn't flashy and transmission #2 was about to drop, but it got me where I needed to go. After a month of price negotiating, I finally purchased a new Honda Accord (made in Ohio). With its new curvy exterior, plush leather heated seats and a moon roof to boot, this car was the symbolic start of a new era in my life. Before I sold the old Contour I thought about the fond memories I had made over the years: the road trips, the comfy commutes to work, the washes and waxes. I traded it in for $300. Really, that's all that car was worth.....$300?  In hindsight, the Contour was a piece of junk waiting to be officially junked. It had been hit-and-run 3 times, the transmission was shot, headlights barely glowed, the backseat was ripped. Even a little smell remained from when my dog barfed between the console and front seat. But it was worth more than $300 to me. It had been "home" for most of my adult life.

Whether it was that old clunker or my new luxury sedan, Freedom Hall or the Arena-to-be-named-later, home is where the heart is. And that is what we'll make: home to University of Louisville basketball. It is a new era in cardinal bball. Our recent success in the Big East has demonstrated that UofL will contend for titles year-in and year-out. The new arena, however, will demonstrate UofL's commitment to its long-term future. UofL basketball will be a national brand.

I have had the luxury of owning graduate student season tickets for the last 4 years (I graduate this year...... no arena tix for me) and have missed only a handful of games during those 4 years.  I went to the Big East tournament last year and witnessed dominating performances in the league many dubbed "the strongest conference ever assembled." I witnessed the Sosa dagger to beat UofK. The Clark dagger to beat Pitt. White outs, black outs. Bad-hair-on-Gody. I've seen it all, but my favorite game and greatest memory of all time had to be the near-perfect performance against North Carolina in 1999 at Freedom Hall. Lucky for me, this was my first game I ever witnessed in the friendly confines of Freedom Hall.

UNC had played us on a regular basis in the 90's. They beat us in the regular season games. They beat us in NCAA tournament games. They probably beat us in club racquetball. But 1999 was the Cards' year for revenge. UofL had recently lost in embarrassing fashion to Pitino's wildcats, but came back the next game to hang 116 points on Tenn State. Apparently that was the offensive spark necessary for the upcoming game against UNC. I was sitting in about the 3rd row of the student section. Somehow my friends and I snuck in with 4 student tickets and only 1 student ID (you had to have a student ID back then to use the student tix). We watched Constantly-Dunking Marques Maybin dunk his way with 20 points while Reece Gaines threw in 12. From a defensive and turnovers standpoint, UofL was perfect. They forced UNC into 21 turnovers (with 7 coming from Ed Cota) and scored 30 points off of those turnovers (mostly fast-break dunks).  UofL, meanwhile, had not turned the ball over the entire first half. Flawless. A 10-0 run to finish the half put the Tar Heels away for good (cue video). I have never seen Freedom Hall on its feet for the entire game like I did that night.

 Constantly-Dunking Marques Maybin

It's time for one more great memory........Beat the 'Cuse.

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