The 1966 NCAA Championship basketball game

The story.

It’s important stuff to know. That’s all I’m saying. Go read the story for yourself:)

sigh We in Kentucky have heard this time and time again. But, although it makes good copy, it isn’t the whole story. Players from both teams have repeatedly reported that the racial aspect meant little or nothing to them - what they had on their minds was wanting to win the National Championship. (As for Rupp yelling at his players over this game, Rupp always yelled at his players. A famous story concerns Rupp yelling at halftime, “Who’s guy is that, he’s running wild out there!” when he found that the same player had scored all the opponent’s points. All four of them. :D) Rupp had coached black players before, though not at Kentucky, and lamented to one, I’ll have to dig for the name, that he’d love to have him at UK but that it just wasn’t possible. UK played (and still plays) in the Southeastern Conference, where one team had to sneak out of state to play in a tournament because they weren’t allowed to play teams with ANY black players.

I’ll grant you that some of the fans were racist, hell a few of them certainly still are today, I’m very sorry to say. Perhaps UK would have been the perfect school to lead the way, and had they I’d have been very proud of that. Kentucky isn’t really part of the South, but that’s where they played. Rupp was unwilling to be the one to fight the battle to end segregation in SEC basketball. I’m not sure that makes him a racist. It’s easy to call him a moral coward for it, from the safety of 40 years of hindshight, but I’m far from sure that’s right either. Mostly, he was a basketball monomaniac who was unwilling to risk his position over what was, to him, a side issue.

Actually, Rupp only (!) coached UK to four National titles, not six. UK has won the NCAA tournament seven times, four times under Rupp, and once each under Joe Hall, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith, who’s the current coach. It would be a stretch to expect one this year, but next year Tubby might just become the second UK coach with more than one NCAA title, and we can close a little more ground on UCLA.