Bartow For Wooden? Toughest Job Ever

| January 12, 2012

No basketball coach ever stepped into a pressure cooker with the heat that Gene Bartow did when he replaced John Wooden at UCLA.

Okay, my buddy Joe B. Hall thinks that he inherited more pressure than Bartow when he replaced Adolph Rupp. No one can say that Joe B. didn’t step into a caldron.

Let’s just leave it at that and talk about Bartow, who died Jan. 3 at his home in Birmingham. He was 81. The cause of death was stomach cancer.

I got to know Bartow in extraordinary circumstances. It was at Munich, Germany, during the ill-fated 1972 Olympics when Arab terrorists killed several Israeli athletes.

Gene was there to coach the Puerto Rican team, whose star was Murray State’s Hector Blondett. I asked Bartow what he was going to do when Blondett refused to go the other end and play defense as he sometimes did when Cal Luther coached him at Murray.

Bartow just rolled his eyes and changed the subject.

A Munich cab

A few days later, I had arranged to get a cab outside the little basketball gym when the last game was played. Bartow, his wife  Ruth and one of his little sons, Murry, who is all grown up now and is head coach at East Tennessee State, piled into my cab and headed for the Olympic compound. Because of that, we became friends. Each time he brought his Memphis State team to Louisville we managed to renew our friendship.

He was one outstanding human being.

And believe it or not, but he was in line to become  the head coach in 1985 at Kentucky, but decided during a visit that he had had enough pressure.

His two-year record at UCLA was 52-9, but he switched to Alabama-Birminghan to be head coach and director of athletics.

His career record was 647-353 and he took 12 teams to the NCAA tournament.

UK Stars Of Stars

Until recent years it really meant something special when a University of Kentucky basketball player reached the 1,000-point club. Senior Darius Miller (yes, there IS a senior on the Wildcats’ roster who gets to play)may be the last to reach the club as long as John (one and done) Calipari runs the show.

Dan Issel, who played just three varsity years, leads the honor roll with 2,138. Freshmen weren’t eligible to play on the varsity when Issel was at UK. Several others played just two or three years.

Here are the 1,000-point club members:
1. Dan Issel, 2,138
2. Kenny Walker, 2,080
3. Jack Givens, 2,038
4. Keith Bogans, 1,923
5. Tony Delk, 1,890
6. Jamal Mashburn, 1,843
7. Kevin Grevey, 1,801
8. Tayshaun Prince, 1,775
9. Cotton Nash, 1,770
10. Alex Groza, 1,744
11. Ed Davender, 1,637
12. Louie Dampier1,575
13. Patrick Patterson, 1,564
14. Mike Casey, 1,535
15. Ralph Beard, 1,517
16. Melvin Turpin, 1,509
17. Cliff Hagan, 1,475
18. Pat Riley, 1,464
19. Johnny Cox, 1,461
20. Joe Crawford, 1,438
21. Kyle Macy, 1,411
22. Winston Bennett, 1,399
23. Rick Robey, 1,395
24. Gerald Fitch, 1,391
25. Mike Phillips, l,367
26. Mike Pratt, 1,359
27. Frank Ramsey, 1,344
28. Ramel Bradley, 1,326
29. Jim Andrews, 1,320
30. Sam Bowie, 1,285
31. Jim Master, 1,283
32. John Pelphrey, 1,257
33. Scott Padgett, 1,252
34. Jodie Meeks, 1,246
35. Tom Parker, 1,238
36. Deron Feldhaus, 1,231
37. Derrick Hord, 1,220
38. Bill Spivey, 1,213
39. Chuck Hayes, 1,211
40. Rodrick Rhodes, 1,209
41. Wayne Turner, 1,170
42. Reggie Hanson, 1,167
43. Derrick Miller, 1,156
44. Vernon Hatton, 1,153
45. Wallace Jones, 1,151
46. Randolph Morris, 1,123
47. Jeff Sheppard, 1,091
48. Billy Ray Lickert, 1,076
49. Rex Chapman, 1,073
50. Dirk Minniefield, 1,069
51. Jamaal Magloire, 1,064
52. Erik Daniels, 1,053
53. Jim Line, 1,041
54. Bob Burrow, 1,023
55. Ron Mercer, 1,013
56. Darius Miller, 1,010*
57. Jim Dan Connor, 1,009
58. Bobby Watson, 1,001

* And moving on up.

UofL, UK: Play!

On the same day that Gov. Steve Beshear warned  about severe budget cuts, a Louisville lawmaker filed legislation that will solve ALL of Kentucky’s problems. The man who rode in on a white horse, State Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, wants to make sure that UK and U of L continue to play each other in football and men’s basketball.

Right there he got off on the wrong track; how about women’s basketball? Isn’t that rivalry worth saving? If not, I am certain that female voters in the senator’s district will let him know what they think. Or maybe no women reside in the senator’s district.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Earl Cox on Sports

About the Author (Author Profile)

Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
502.897.8910

Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.

Comments are closed.