Friday, March 05, 2010

Freedom Hall...

I had this plan to write a big, long, sappy post about how much I love Freedom Hall, but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm just going to list my favorite things, games, memories, etc. and talk about what I'll miss most about the greatest place to watch College Basketball.

* The Smell. The first thing you notice when you enter the Hall is the smell of caramel corn. I've always loved it and I've always associated it with UofL basketball. If they made a body wash that smelled like that, I'd use it. I love the smell!

* Getting autographs before games. For about a 5 year stretch, when I was a kid, I would go to the games super early and get all of the players to sign the team media guide each year. I still buy the media guy each year, but I don't get autographs anymore. I'll never forget getting Dejuan Wheat's in 1997. He was my favorite player and the last player I needed that year. I caught him just before he went to the locker room and he signed the front which had a picture of him on a Wheaties box, but it just said, "Wheat." It's one of my favorite pieces of sports memorabilia I own.

* The famous fans. The C-A-R-D-S guy (who has unbelievable timing), the guy who did the crazy hand stands on the rails, the guy who ran back and forth to spell out CARDS, The Boogie-Cam man, The old guy who always waves the ref shirt. They were/are all great!

* Marques Maybin's shoes. One game while I was getting autographs, Marques Maybin was sitting on the bench with his shoes off, adjusting his socks. Tony Williams came over and took both of his shoes and threw them in the stands. Marques asked me if I would go get them for him. Maybin was by far my favorite player and while I tried to act cool, I was so excited that I got to help him out. Although, I remember thinking that I should try to keep them.

* The Cardinal Bird Flying from the rafters. About 12-15 years ago, before they announced the starting line-up, the mascot would drop form the ceiling and "fly" over the crowd. IT WAS AWESOME! I wish I had a picture of that.

* Fans chanting "C-A-R-D-S" while walking down the ramps after a big win. The party always carried over to the parking lot after that.

* The three game home stand last year. Edgar's dagger to beat UK, an OT win over Notre Dame and then beating #1 Pitt. All three of those games were loud and exciting.

* Senior Day. Dejuan Wheat in 97, Reece Gaines in 03, Larry O'Bannon (The crowd chanting LAAARRR-EEE) 05, David Padgett 08, T-Will 09.

*Taquan Dean's three to beat Memphis in the 2003 C-USA tournament. One of the loudest games I can remember. Tom, Todd and I went to the game right after school, it was great.

* Winning the 2003 C-USA tourney. Everyone threw their "3" signs on the court and it looked like it was snowing 3's.

* Reece Gaines' buzzer beater against Princeton in the NIT. I remember being so excited that my dad went to give me a five and I just hugged him and jumped up and down.

* John Tong announcing, "Steps Called", "GOOOOAL BY WHEAT", "ANNND TIME IS OUUUT ON THE FLOOR"

* Sean Moth announcing, "THHHHHHRRRRREEEEEEEEE GAAAAARRRRCCCCCIIIIIAAAA"

* The pep band playing "Can't Turn You Loose" with one minute til tip. I always watch to see if they're gonna make it before the buzzer sounds.

* Seeing Michael Jordan play an exhibition game with the Bulls in 1996.

* Hearing how loud the crowd gets when our guys force a shot clock violation.

* Staying after for the Coach's press conference on the video wall.

* Giving the player of the game a standing-o when they came out to talk to the radio guys

* Listening to the radio post game show while sitting in traffic on the way out.

* Too many more to name.

The thing about Freedom Hall is that it's been the home to so many great memories. While I love the buzzer beaters, big wins, senior nights, etc. It's the whole experience that has made me love Freedom Hall and Louisville basketball. I love feeling like everyone in the crowd is your friends and family and you all are supporting one cause. Talking with other fans and high fiving them during big games will always be one of my favorite things. In the end though, my absolute favorite thing about Freedom Hall and Cardinal games will be the chance to watch games with my mom, dad, brother, fiance, best friends, soon to be in-laws, etc. and getting so excited that we hug, high five and cheer as loud as we possibly can. Nothing beats Freedom Hall and the thrill and excitement of Louisville Basketball.

One more game, let's go out with a bang Cardinals!

Go Cards!

Song of the Day: The Beatles - In My Life

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