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House of Champions: The Story of Kentucky Basketball’s Home Courts

Appearance Date: 10/29/2022

The stories and accounts of Kentucky basketball’s players, iconic coaches, and epic games have been told and retold, but lesser known are the stories of the arenas and venues that have been home to the Wildcats—buildings that have witnessed the sights, sounds, and shared spirit of the Big Blue Nation for over a century. In House of Champions: The Story of Kentucky Basketball’s Home Courts, author Kevin Cook combines archival research and numerous interviews with players and coaches to reveal the rich history and colorful details of the structures that have hosted University of Kentucky basketball. A number of fascinating backstories are uncovered, including the excitement of Alumni Gym’s opening night in 1925, the problematic acquisition of a Black community for Memorial Coliseum, and the moving account of the displays of nearly ten thousand names of Kentucky’s WWII and Korean War heroes on the Coliseum’s pedestrian ramps. The account concludes with a compelling overview of the development of historic Rupp Arena: its inner workings, the prominent figures involved, and how the initial conversation to build it began over a slice of Jerry’s pie in 1968.

This insightful and entertaining history reveals how the impact of these sporting facilities extended far beyond the courts’ sidelines to directly shape and influence the social, economic, and political landscapes of Lexington and Central Kentucky. House of Champions also faithfully recreates the full game day experience of fans in the stands for several key games in UK’s storied past. It ultimately offers an even greater appreciation of the history of the Wildcats and what the famed indoor stadiums have brought to the program. This book is a must for any true Big Blue Basketball fan.

About the Author

Kevin Cook has degrees in engineering and American history. His published works include a comprehensive study of the Rochester Royals’ NBA franchise in Rochester History, articles in the Jessamine Journal and German Life, and a self-published travel memoir titled Where Am I, Rick Steves? A Misguided Tour of Europe’s Back Doors. He has worked as a naval officer, a high school teacher, and a corporate sales representative.

Kevin Cook