Somehow when Fall City Brewery closed, my grandfather was passed along their tickets so most of my memories are from his mid court seats. I’m pretty sure my first basketball game ever was a UofL game; I was that young. It was back when the Cardinal Bird would fly down from the rafters and the crowd would go nuts. I remember the first TV time out meant that my grandfather would be bringing back a pepsi and caramel corn soon. When he passed away a few years ago, the place felt different. Whether it was from the announcement of the new arena or him not being there I still can’t tell. However, first and foremost, Freedom Hall will be the home of the best memories I shared with him.
I, like many others already have said, grew up idolizing Dejaun Wheat. My biggest regret ever of Louisville basketball is not watching the game against Cincinatti during his senior year where he dunked. It was a dream during my adolescence to see that. I remember winning Metro Conference Championships, and not knowing what that even was. Most of all I remember the crowd and the intensity that seems to have dilapidated over the years. I remember games against Memphis where I’d scream and yell the entire game, not entirely sure why the rivalry was so bitter. And the same with that a$$hole from Cincinatti.
However, there are three memories from freedom hall that will forever remain with me. First, is the Marquette game where Ellis Myles did his knee. My father has gotten tickets behind the bench for one game a year for as long as I remember. This was the first time I was deemed old enough to hear Rick Pitino’s language (apparently, he cursed like a sailor). I didn’t see Myles go down, but I could hear his bone-chilling scream. All I could do was think he would never play again.
The other two are the best memories of players in Freedom Hall. After going to the Final Four the year before, Taquan Dean’s senior season must have been painful for him to endure. But throughout that season, I’ve never seen a player display the loyalty to UofL has he did. After his last game, he laid down and kissed the bird at center court (which has been copied by several since). I just remember thinking how if every player could care about the team as much as we, the fans, and he did, then we would be a top 5 team every season.
The last memory requires almost no explanation. January of 2009, I was in the student section behind the goal when Edgar hit the three against UK. It became a mosh pit. I thoroughly am amazed those old bleacher seats didn’t crumble underneath 2,000 students going crazy.
Damn it was great. If you haven’t figured out by my memories, I’m still in my early 20’s. However, I love going to that place as much as any 80 year old who sits in the lower section and heads out with ten minutes to go in the game. Wait… I would say that place means a lot more to me. I haven’t left a game before the final buzzer in my life. I’m gonna miss the smells, the sounds, and the people I’ve met all along the years. But they say change is good. Maybe moving downtown is the start of something special. With the recruits we have coming in, the next few years seem to promise exciting times. But you know what? I’ll always love that old barn.<!--EndFragment-->