Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Reliving 2,000 wins through the legends

| 24 Comments | No TrackBacks
MBSK 09_10 UK_UNC Web  30.jpg

Two-thousand wins. An achievement no other school - not Kansas, not North Carolina, not UCLA - has ever achieved.

For the first time in college basketball, a school has reached the 2,000 mark. Kentucky, as the rightful owner of the winningest record in college basketball, is the first to reach the hallowed mark.

The journey spanned 11 decades, seven national titles and the most storied index of legends any program has ever amassed. Every decade, year, player and team had its own story and its own legacy.

That's what makes 2,000 wins so special. No matter what win we choose to talk about - the school's first championship, Jack Givens' 41 points in the 1978 championship game, the LSU comeback in 1994, the national title game in 1996 - they all equal the same and make up 2,000. Without each one, Kentucky wouldn't be the program that it is. It's marked a history of consistent greatness.

From the beginning to the end, Kentucky has been the game's best team. Two-thousand is just a number to mark it. The real achievement is what it took to get there.

Hear about how some of the legends remember the journey to 2,000 wins. We asked some of the former greats - Kyle Macy, Dan Issel, Kenny Walker and Derek Anderson - the same five questions to see what 2,000 wins means to them.

Here is what they had to say:

Kyle Macy

What does reaching 2,000 wins mean to you as a former player?
"From a player's perspective I think it gives you some pride in the fact that you know you were a part of that total number of wins. Obviously, it being your alma mater, you want it to be first in every category. When you can say you have the most wins of any school playing college basketball and the highest winning percentage, those are things to be very proud of."

It's not only the victories. It's the fans. That to me more than anything is what makes this program different and outstanding more than any other place.
Kyle Macy

What's the significance of reaching 2,000 wins and being the first school to do that?
"I think more than anything is it talks about how consistent the program has been. It's not like they have four or five good years and then all of a sudden 10 bad years. It's just been constantly up towards the top. That's why they've been able to achieve it before anyone else. That tradition has endured year after year after year."

Do you have a favorite win or moment?
"From a team standpoint probably the championship (in 1978). Anytime you win a championship as a team it's obviously a big thing. So really whether it was that final game when the buzzer sounded or that whole season leading up to that championship season where we were 30-2, those are obviously great memories. Individually, probably a couple of games to pull off a big comeback, (in particular) against Kansas at home in Rupp Arena when we were down by seven I think with about 30 seconds before the 3-point shot. An individual game probably would be the Michigan State game in the Mideast Regionals."

Win No. 2,000 signifies the winningest program in college basketball, but besides the wins, what makes this program so special in your opinion that kind of sets it above the rest?
"It's not only the victories. It's the fans. That to me more than anything is what makes this program different and outstanding more than any other place. Other places have some good fans but just not the number of loyal fans that constantly follow everything that is done from border to border, and not just state border, but throughout the country and throughout the world. I've had the opportunity to play all across the U.S. but also overseas in a lot of different foreign countries, and it seems like every time I walk out on the court to warm up or after the game, someone will come up and say, 'Hey, I'm a Kentucky fan,' and then call out a particular game or play. I think that's what really separates this program from any other one."

Can you talk about the job head coach John Calipari has done in not only restoring UK's winning tradition but reaching back to past generations and former greats?
"He's done a great job as far as when he first got the job being in the right places, saying all the right things, but also making former players feel like they're part of the program and bring that excitement back to everyone, not just players but fans as well. It's been a lot of fun to be a part of it as a fan watching and watching the team continue to get better and having great expectations for this team. It's been a lot of fun. He's got that buzz going back throughout the Commonwealth and throughout all the fans."

issel_danaction.jpg

Dan Issel

What does reaching 2,000 wins mean to you as a former player?
"I think it's important that the University of Kentucky would be the first school to 2,000 wins. I think it shows how great the program has been since basketball became prevalent. UCLA had a great run under coach (John) Wooden. Duke has been very good since coach (Mike Krzyzewski) has been there. But from the beginning to the end, getting to 2,000 wins proves that Kentucky has been the strongest college basketball program."

Do you have a favorite win or moment?
"Unfortunately I never got to the Final Four and so the season each year ended with a disappointment. I think probably the most satisfying win was my senior year against North Carolina because we played North Carolina all three years I was there and they won the first two games. The third game was in Charlotte. North Carolina certainly has an outstanding program and it was important that we didn't go 0-3 against North Carolina in my career. That was probably the most satisfying."

What's the significance of reaching 2,000 wins and being the first school to do that?
"I think it shows that Kentucky is the top college basketball program. Now with coach Calipari being there, the way that he can recruit and the way that he can coach, it'll be a while before anybody catches Kentucky as far as wins are concerned."

Win No. 2,000 signifies the winningest program in college basketball, but besides the wins, what makes this program so special in your opinion that kind of sets it above the rest?
"It's the history. You start with coach (Adolph) Rupp. Coach Rupp, in my mind, was the best college coach that ever coached because he was so far ahead of his time. You didn't have to scout Kentucky. All you had to do was go down to the bookstore and buy one of coach Rupp's books and the entire offense was laid out in front of you. We were able to execute the plays so the defense still couldn't stop us. It starts with coach Rupp, who I think is the greatest college coach ever, the history, the players that played at Kentucky, the coaches that coached at Kentucky and the success they had. If Kentucky isn't a significant player as far as the national scene is concerned it's an embarrassment to a lot of people because of the success and the history the program has."

Can you talk about the job head coach John Calipari has done in not only restoring UK's winning tradition but reaching back to past generations and former greats?
"I think that's important. He obviously would be foolish if he didn't rely on the past. That's the most important part of the program. If you're starting a program from scratch, it's going to be very difficult. The fact that he recognizes the history and is reaching back to former players, I think that can only help the program."

Kenny Walker

What does reaching 2,000 wins mean to you as a former player?
"It means a lot because we take a lot of pride in being the best college basketball program. One of the ways that we can really boast that is by having the all-time wins. I think it means a lot to the former players because we all felt like we were a part of something special. For the young guys to carry that into the new millennium makes us all really happy."

It's a great feeling to know that what you do here will last the rest of your life. Once you've put on that UK uniform, the people in this state are going to support you until the very end regardless of what it is you're into.
Kenny Walker

What's the significance of reaching 2,000 wins and being the first school to do that?
"Any other college program will probably tell you that it's just a number when you ask about the significance of 2,000 wins. A lot of other folks are trying to downplay it. Two-thousand wins is a lot of wins and that means that you've been good for a long, long time. To have those bragging rights is not only special for the former players and coaches and current players and coaches but definitely for the fans. The fans are the ones that come out and support this and make it what it is."

Do you have a favorite win or moment?
"You can look down through the years and I remember the '94 team coming back and winning on the road at LSU being 31 points down. Of course I remember the game Jack Givens had in the championship game (in 1978). I remember Tayshaun Prince nailing all of those 3-pointers against North Carolina. I guess for me personally, the shot that I made for our team in 1984 to win the SEC Tournament. Out of all the things that I've done in my career - and I've done a lot of good things after that game - but I was just sophomore in that game on a team that featured Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin. To make that shot and have it win the tournament and people 25 years away come up to me and say, 'You're the guy that made Charles Barkley cry' (is special). I have to think for a little bit because I don't know what they're talking about, but that shot that won the game over Auburn in '84, Charles Barkley did indeed lay on the floor and cry. That's what I remember the most. I do radio in Lexington and every year we have 12 to 15 people that call in during the season to relive that moment. I constantly hear it throughout the state when I'm visiting people and it's a great feeling. It's a great feeling to know that what you do here will last the rest of your life. Once you've put on that UK uniform, the people in this state are going to support you until the very end regardless of what it is you're into. It's going to open a lot of doors. It's great to be a Wildcat right now."

Win No. 2,000 signifies the winningest program in college basketball, but besides the wins, what makes this program so special in your opinion that kind of sets it above the rest?
"Kentucky has always prided itself in not really following trends but setting trends. I think that we've set a lot of good trends in terms of the coaches that have been hired to run this program for the most part and great players who are not only great players but great people. I think that if you're 18 and 19 years old and you come and see the facility, or you watch a game in Rupp Arena, or Midnight Madness, or you go to a football game, or you're a recruit and everybody is encouraging you to come be a part of something special, you feel the energy and the love from the very first time you walk on campus. For people to continue to feel that way long after you're gone says a lot about the people, about the state of Kentucky, but more importantly, it says how special the tradition we have at the University of Kentucky when it comes to basketball."

Can you talk about the job head coach John Calipari has done in not only restoring UK's winning tradition but reaching back to past generations and former greats?
"Coach Cal is a godsend. He's exactly what we need. He has the right attitude, he has the right personality for this job and obviously he's done a lot of homework on the University of Kentucky basketball before he came here. I think it was brilliant with him calling all of the former coaches and asking them their opinions and their thoughts on Kentucky basketball. When you talk to people like Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith, all guys with different personalities, different backgrounds, they can educate you pretty well on what to expect. I think by him doing that was brilliant and he's embraced the fans, the fans have embraced him. He's kind of come down to the fan level. How many former coaches have spent the night out, camped out with fans for Midnight Madness tickets? He's the only guy to do that. I think the fans really love his attitude and his energy. We had to wait a couple of years to get him but it's a perfect fit and I'm glad we've got him now."

anderson_derek2.jpg

Derek Anderson

What does reaching 2,000 wins mean to you as a former player?
"Reaching 2,000 means we've done something that no one else has done on Earth. That's an accomplishment within itself. I've always believed you should leave a legacy and that's what we're planning on doing. It shows what we did as a team. We left a legacy and people still remember it and that's what you're always remembered for when you're on this Earth or when you're gone. It's what did you do while you were here. We made history."

What's the significance of reaching 2,000 wins and being the first school to do that?
"Being the first program means just that - you're No. 1.

Do you have a favorite win or moment?
"When I played against Louisville my senior year in the hometown I grew up for and always wanted to play for. I just literally dunked on them. That moment growing up was like the epitome of going against all odds, not being able to do the things you want to do and then finally doing them. It was almost like a written script from your childhood that you finally let out. It was the greatest moment for me. Everybody I know asks me about that dunk."

Win No. 2,000 signifies the winningest program in college basketball, but besides the wins, what makes this program so special in your opinion that kind of sets it above the rest?
"When you look at the rest of the programs, a lot of people go off of a name. Like if there is a certain individual, you can pretty much put that individual with a name. When you do that at Kentucky, you do the whole state, you do everybody - Kentucky fans, the University of Kentucky and the players. We're all included together. When you name off some of the other programs, you're naming off individuals. In this program, no one individual stands above the program. It's just the whole state of Kentucky. It's one body, and that's why I love the University of Kentucky. No one has ever done what we've done."

Can you talk about the job head coach John Calipari has done in not only restoring UK's winning tradition but reaching back to past generations and former greats?
"I think he's doing great. I think he's been blessed to have this type of talent in his first year in and to also have guys that listen to him. I think that's the biggest key. The way he's brought us back is what we've always wanted. We used to have problems with coming back. Whether coach just had a question with what we were doing, this coach is open arms and open door for us. It's just like being back here and being back on the team. I can relive my great moments."

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/2262

24 Comments

I remember listening to Cawood Ledford call games on my six transistor radio and I've been a fan of the Cats ever since. UK Basketball deserves to be honored as the greatest sports dynasty of all time. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY WILDCATS (past & present).

UK Basketball has an unmatched tradition in NCAA College Basketball. It's time for us to win our 8th National Championship. First there were Rupp's Runts, now we have the Cal-Boys.

Go Cats!

I am so proud to be a Kentucky fan! It has been a roller coaster ride the last few years, but Coach Cal has really done a great job getting the program back to where it should be! 2,000 wins is a great milestone...now let's work on the next big milestone - 8, as in National Championships!!!

GO BIG BLUE!!!

CALS CATS ALL THE WAY TO 8 championships.We have the best tradition in ncaa basketball.cal just keep in mind eight is great!!!!!!!!!GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!!

Awesome achievement! UK2K has a nice ring to it. This team is really special and I believe it's going to be a incredible season. Congrats, and bring the gold home to the BLUEgrass state. Scratch & Claw forever!

I have been a UK fan since I was about 12 when my mom and I would watch the games together on TV. It was a special time for us to share and I grew to be a passionate UK fan. Most people think I sound like a snob when I say I only watch UK play basketball. But it's just that I like to watch my Cats play! I have supported the Cats during good times and bad times.
Congratulations Wildcats.

Just turned 63 a few days go - been a Cat fan since I was four years old listening to a fading in and out huge tube radio that was twice as tall as I was ... but mainly recall the wonderful cadence of Cawood Ledford on WHAS in Louisville. I've lived in California for about 30 years now - but i still follow my #1 CATS! Bleed BLUE!

John in San Ramon, CA

Reacging this great milestone puts an explantion point on the great tradition that we have at UK. I'm getting ready to turn 24 in January... another national championship would be a great late birthday present. Keep it rollin and turn the whole world into ROYAL BLUE! GO CATS

I've enjoyed becoming a TRUE UK basketball fan over the years, and am SO happy that the UK program not only has become so amazing this year, but we can now look back and smile on our new achievement over the years, as we hit 2,000!

What a great way to top every team in the nation to reach 2,000. This milestone puts an explanation point on the great tradition at UK. I'm proud to say that I'm a member of the BIG BLUE NATION. I'll turn 24 in January, another National Title would be the greatest late birthday gift of all in March. Keep it rollin BIG BLUE. GO CATS!

Our family's first color television set came when Kentucky made it to the Final Four. My parents said that they wanted our first color television experience to be the blue and white of the Wildcats. I remember our first large console coming through the door when the Cats once again made it to the Final Four a few years later.

Cheering for the Wildcats has always been a part of my family heritage as a Kentuckian. Together, we have gathered around the television to support our Cats - in the finest of victories and the most challenging of defeats. It is a tradition that I pass on with great pride and a deep sense of loyalty to my children. This is not just basketball. It is Kentucky.

Shawna Keller, Nashville, TN

Congratulations Big Blue! The only thing missing in Rupp Arena last night was my presence; but I was home excited and cheering the Cats to victory on this momentous occasion - UK2K!! The Heislers love it!

My family has deep roots in Kentucky for over 200 years. I have grew up in Chicago, but have always been a Wildcat fan. Go CATS, let's take this season all the way to the Championship!!

Brilliant to see the Cats reach 2000. I only get to see them once a year as I am based in England and the last game I saw was against North Carolina Dec.5th. Great atmosphere looking forward to seeing them next year.

Last night i was basking in the 2000th win if we get to 3000 i'll be 96 if the lord permits me to be here. I can just see bob knight's face GREEN WITH ENVY. He ought to talk about Coach Cal but Coach Cal has NEVER thrown a chair, choke or slapped anyone, never made up a poem about his critics (there has been a few made up about bob knight)i'd say dickis v. coach williams, and coach k are jealious too. why don't old bob knight open up a furnature store and if you buy a couch from him he can throw a chair in FREE!!!!!!

I live in bloomington...orginally from hazard..been a big blue fan all my life....this years team sure is fun to watch...catch alot of hell from I.U. fans but that's alright...they have to eat crow alot....let big blue come to indianapolis and get number 8..that would take the cake....GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!!!

I'm only 14 so I havn't had the chance to experience even half of UK's greatest moments. But I am very glad that I got the chance to see UK reach the 2,000 mark. I have grown up in a home where UK is a huge thing. We only get to go to a couple of games each year so it is definitely a treat when we get tickets. Someday, I hope to grow up and pass down the passion of UK to my kids just as my parents did for me. Until then, I will be cheering on my beloved Wildcats. UK2K! Go Wildcats!

Rebecca Dezarn, Russellville, KY

I am 65 years old and can't remember when I became a fan but it was well before I ever saw them on tv. We listen on radio and then on tv, I watched with my Mom. None of us ever was on the UK campus but still feel like we are part of the UK program, because we are Kentuckians and that is enough for us to take pride and feel like we are apart of the Big Blue Nation.

I couldn't be prouder. I lived in So Cal for 30 years and had to eat a lot of crow being from KY, but when it came to the KY basketball team, things were definitly different and they just keep on going, and going, and GOING.

Proud to be from Grayson, Kentucky!!!

GO BIG BLUE !!!!!

Will you please post the video that's shown at Rupp Arena which plays highlights of UK basketball over the years?

I grew up in Morganfield, Kentucky. Graduating with Dwayne Casey in 1975 from Union County H.S. Playing sports from the 6th grade on up with a former player who was on winning NIT and NCAA championship teams, has given me an interesting perspective on Kentucky Basketball and 2000 wins.
Although coach Rupp taught set shots,and Coach Hall taught how to break the 4 corners Dean Smith would design...it's been on the playgrounds and gyms in Kentucky, where many a young man dreamed of being part of a Heritage that would produce the most wins in College Basketball History. On goals played with barns for backboards and coal miners drive ways becoming parkay floors, all across the state,and now across the nation, young men have been busy preparing themselves to be part of something special. Right now there are 3 young men on this team from High Schools here in the State of Kentucky. Meaning it's still possible for young men to prepare themselves for the next record setting performance. Whatever your connection is, if you love cheering on the BIG BLUE, then you too are part of this record setting performance.... GO BIG BLUE !

all i can say is kentucky is doin great this year thank god for john wall i hope we get another chamionship an i hope we demolish u of l so i can rub it in all my friends faces because where i live it is mainly u of l fans but good luck cats bring home the championship

I'm 66 now and I have been a Wildcat fan all my life,didn't know there was any other possibility.Living in Mc/Roberts,Letcher county,I grew up having to read the Knoxville News Sentinel just to get the latest news.McRoberts being not far from Kingdom Come is to say the least back in the hills.I do thank God for radio and the voice I could always recognize.If the Cats were on radio the Wright boys were listening.Times have changed a lot ,but I still listen via the computer,that is why I am the valricocat1.Go Big Blue !!!

Around 1982 on a flight from Houston to Tampa I noticed a newspaper with the outline of the state of Kentucky- I thought the Courier-Journal,wrong the LA Times! The flight attendant said are you a UK fan? Going to Tampa she ask if I knew Lee Rose,said she fell in love with him as a young girl.Also said her dad worked in the SEC admin office and had been a coach also,I said then you must be C.M. Newton's daughter.What a small world we live in.Newton hired Pitino at UK ,but he is going down!! Go big blue!!!

Leave a comment




Recent Comments

  • Gary Wright: Around 1982 on a flight from Houston to Tampa I noticed a newspaper with the outline of the state of read more
  • Gary Wright: I'm 66 now and I have been a Wildcat fan all my life,didn't know there was any other possibility.Living in read more
  • joseph: all i can say is kentucky is doin great this year thank god for john wall i hope we get read more
  • Gary E. Dzuris: I grew up in Morganfield, Kentucky. Graduating with Dwayne Casey in 1975 from Union County H.S. Playing sports from read more
  • Ashlee: Will you please post the video that's shown at Rupp Arena which plays highlights of UK basketball over the years? read more
  • Ralph (Ed) Justice: I couldn't be prouder. I lived in So Cal for 30 years and had to eat a lot of crow read more
  • Larry: I am 65 years old and can't remember when I became a fan but it was well before I ever read more
  • Rebecca Dezarn: I'm only 14 so I havn't had the chance to experience even half of UK's greatest moments. But I am read more
  • Ray Johnson: I live in bloomington...orginally from hazard..been a big blue fan all my life....this years team sure is fun to watch...catch read more
  • jim britt: Last night i was basking in the 2000th win if we get to 3000 i'll be 96 if the lord read more