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Basketball Fever?

3 inside-scoop Kentucky basketball books—Kentucky Colonels, Kenny Davis, and Rupp’s Fabulous Five

Kentucky Colonels: Shots from the Sidelines
by Mark Gordon and Lloyd Gardner
“What an amazing book Lloyd Gardner has crafted in Kentucky Colonels: Shots From The Sidelines,” reports Dan Issel in praise of the book. “It brought back great memories about the ABA, the Kentucky Colonels and our champion season. It also conjured up stories I can now share with my kids and grandkids.”

During the early 70s, Mark Gordon served as a game-shooting photographer for the Kentucky Colonels, one of the ABA league’s strongest franchises. In 2012, after noticing some of his photos in a book about the team, Gordon decided to revisit his collection—a whopping 3,000 images. Having kept the original negatives, he claims it was like discovering a forgotten treasure.

Kentucky Colonels coverGordon narrowed the photos down to about 600, then enlisted the help of Gardner, former Colonels trainer, Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame 2015 inductee, and co-author of the book in which Gordon spotted his photos, to further edit and then caption the shots for a sequel. Kentucky Colonels: Shots from the Sidelines, (Acclaim Press, $34.95), resulted in a special pictorial keepsake for fans of this beloved team. Gardner says Gordon’s photos, “bring this era alive beyond words” and will return readers to a forgotten time.

Through these images, fans of the American Basketball Association will replay the high flying, intense action of a rough and tumble league, including Kentucky stars Louie Dampier and Dan Issel as well as Julius Erving, Wes Unseld, and George Gervin to name a few. Every season from 1970 to 1976 is covered, including the 1972 ABA All-Star Game.

The block that changed the game

The Shot April 4, 1975, Kentucky Colonels Artis Gilmore #53 goes high and knocks New York Nets Larry Kenon’s shot out of bounds. Wil Jones #22 ducks as Gilmore falls toward him. Ted McClain #24 and Dan Issel #44 were planning to get the rebound. Dr. J #32 watches, but there is nothing he can do.

Kentucky Colonels
Photo: Mark Gordon

The Game The Kentucky Colonels and the New York Nets tied for first in the Eastern Division so this special one-game playoff was hosted at Freedom Hall, Louisville. The Kentucky Colonels defeated the Nets 108-99.

Inside Basketball Because the Kentucky Colonels took the advice of David Vance, the ABA (American Basketball Association) became the first league in professional basketball to record “blocked shots” on the stat sheet.

Louie Dampier
Kentucky Colonels’ Louie Dampier #10 jumps high to contest Washington Bullets’ #10 Kevin Porter’s pass at a game at Freedom Hall, Louisville, October 1, 1974. Photo: Mark Gordon


Better Than Gold
by Gary West with Kenny Davis
When Kenny Davis was growing up on a Monticello, Kentucky, farm, he likely never dreamed he would be in the Olympics one day. Not only can he claim this achievement so few ever realize, but Davis, who played for Georgetown College, was part of an Olympics that carried with it tragedy and controversy, perhaps more than any other. His story comes to life in a book he co-authored with Gary West, Better Than Gold, (Acclaim Press, $26.95).

BetterThanGold cover artIn the 1972 games held in Munich, Germany, Davis found himself captain of the USA basketball team, a team that was undefeated in the history of Olympic play. Coming into the final game, the United States team was set to play Russia for the gold medal. The win should have belonged to Davis and his teammates were it not for a game-changing, and clock-changing, error by an official. In protest, the United States players never accepted their silver medals.

Readers will also appreciate the inside look into an Olympic village that suffered a terrorist attack leaving eleven Israeli athletes dead. West and Davis tell this story well, giving the reader a sense of how a young Kentucky boy must have felt in the midst of such a shocking and senseless attack.

Sinister Influences
by Ron Elliott
University of Kentucky basketball fans are more than passionate about their team. As far back as the days of Coach Adolph Rupp, fans have been convinced their Cats could do anything. Rupp rewarded this devotion with a National Invitational Tournament win, a runner-up finish, four NCAA tournament wins, and, of course, many regular season wins.

SINISTER Influences COVERRon Elliott writes about the day Rupp’s dream team received a blemish in Sinister Influences, (Acclaim Press, $24.95). In 1951, two of Rupp’s star players, Ralph Beard and Alex Groza, were arrested for conspiring with gamblers to fix the games by shaving points. The unethical behavior became more serious when it took place at Madison Square Garden in New York. There, point shaving was illegal, giving police a reason to make their arrest. In the end, a total of thirty players from seven schools would be implicated, forever changing basketball history and the lives of the players caught in their schemes.

Elliott also includes numerous photos of the era as well as game and player statistics. Elliott and his wife Carol live in Nelson County.



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