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Remembrances of the Rivalry

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Cards vs. Cats is rarely not memorable

The thrill of victory.

Knoxville. Forever and always Knoxville.

Three national titles notwithstanding, the most endearing five minutes in the history of Louisville Cardinal hoops were the OT beatdown in Stokely.

My favorite memory of that moment — other than the victory decades in the coming — is ever stoic Rodney McCray, victory secured, standing on a chair, facing U of L fans, leading the C A R D S cheer.

Listening on the floor model radio with my dad in ‘59, as ten-loss U of L shredded #2 UK by 15 in the regional semi, then coming back the next night and dispatching #8 Sparty.

Watching with Doc as Denny Crum’s worst team (12-20) pulled it out against #4 Kentucky in Rupp.

The Sosa game, when U of L tried to blow it late. Such that my pals Dough and Mae left the game in disgust, didn’t listen on the radio, and when we gathered for our post game repast at the Grape Leaf, learned the Cards had prevailed on the PG’s trey.

The New Year’s Day Samaki game when the Cats were #5. How by chance our extended crew all ended up at the same Chinese restaurant, where we stuffed out faces into the night. As the Cardinal pivot man hd stuffed the Cats. 11 blocks. Along with 10 rebounds, 14 points for U of L’s first ever triple double.

The agony of defeat.

So many, too too many honestly, they blend into each other.

The Rex Chapman game. After which I was looking around the parking lot for a new ride home, when my UK pal, who I had driven with to the battle after he had unfortunately been given tickets by a well-meaning but ill advised Cardinal fan, was a frothing at the mouth Ralph Steadman in victory.

The Patrick Sparks shuffle.

The year that UK was #1, and Kenny Payne missed a trey at the buzzer that would have felled the Big Blue.

Then there’s the one that never was.

When the Cards came within a Richard Washington OT jumper of meeting Kentucky for the national crown.

The flip side, of course, is if that one would have come about, that would have been the Dream Game. And we wouldn’t have the joy of Knoxville, where the gym was packed with Red and Blue.

Will there be memories after Saturday’s renewal?

I am so sure there will.

— c d kaplan