Rupp Rafters - Home of Kentucky Basketball Legends

Rupp Arena at the University of Kentucky is home to some of the greatest college basketball moments ever witnessed, from celebrating championships to remembering fallen players - making its Rupp rafters one of the most revered shrines in all of sports.

Kentucky basketball fans consider Rupp Arena's rafters holy ground. Here, legendary players and coaches jerseys hang proudly for all to see, making immortalization in these hallowed halls an honor few can attain.

Kyle Macy, the host of the popular radio program "From the Rafters of Rupp", set out on an ambitious quest to interview these former stars. Rupp Arena boasts the jerseys of some of the greatest Kentucky basketball players ever, an honor coveted by real Wildcat fans. Real Kentucky basketball fans take great pride in owning real estate within Rupp Arena rafters - it is considered an incredible honor.

The Louisville Courier-Journal provides an insight into who will join their ranks when the new banner goes up this weekend. The ceremony is set to occur Saturday night when broadcaster Cawood Leach steps down from his post at the radio booth.

Mike Pratt may have missed his window for this recognition to come a little too late, but it will still be special for future generations of fans when they look up and see his number 22 hanging there.

The History

Rupp Arena at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky is one of the country's most iconic college basketball arenas, known for its electric atmosphere and passionate Sea of Blue that fills it on game days. Additionally, this arena hosts the Kentucky Basketball Museum to commemorate some of the most significant moments in basketball history.

Rupp Stadium's rafters hold special significance for Wildcat fans. Adorned with jerseys of some of the UK's greatest players and coaches ever to don its uniform, these jerseys serve as a reminder of past greatness while offering hope for future successes.

Rupp Arena has become home to some of the greatest names in college basketball history, from its undefeated 1954 team (Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey, Lou Tsioropoulous, Bill Evans, Ralph Beard, and Kenny Rollins) to Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, and John Pelphrey's Unforgettable (Richie Farmer Deron Feldhaus and John Pelphrey). Being honored to have your jersey hanging in Rupp Arena's rafters is truly special but requires hard work: only those worthy deserve such distinction!

For consideration of having their banner hang in Rupp rafters, an individual must first be honored with induction into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and then five years later eligible to have their jersey retired - both being considered highly esteemed honors at Kentucky. Being honored with this recognition at such an iconic institution like Kentucky is indeed an amazing accomplishment and should only be bestowed upon those considered among its top performers.

Tubby Smith earned nearly twenty thousand fans when his jersey was retired during a game against High Point; nearly all stood to applaud and honor all his victories during his time coaching Kentucky football. It was an extremely well-deserved standing ovation.

Rupp Arena at the University of Kentucky has become home to some of the greatest names in college basketball history. Holding over 23,000 fans at once, it is one of the premier venues to watch a college hoops game - one that die-hard fans cherish and are committed to supporting.

Rupp Arena has long held onto a tradition of hanging banners in honor of player and coach Adolph Rupp, beginning when the UK first unfurled one to commemorate him. Since then, additional banners have been added.

Banners celebrating Kentucky basketball history's greatest players and teams hang from the rafters above the court and can be seen by all fans in attendance, showing our gratitude to previous players, coaches, and officials who made great strides on the hardwood.

To be honored with a banner in Rupp Arena's rafters, an individual must first be inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame have played on at least two championship teams, and been part of at least one perfect season. Once these criteria are fulfilled, an honors committee will consider retiring their jerseys as a sign of appreciation.

However, there have been notable exceptions. Of particular note is Jerry Bird who was honored with both Hall-of-Fame membership and having his No. 22 jersey retired before his passing just this month at age 83.

As well as banners, Rupp Arena features retired trophies and memorabilia that is proudly displayed throughout its rafters - for many fans this is one of the highlights of visiting Rupp Arena - its sacred temple-like status holds great meaning to die-hard Kentucky supporters, making all of those banners all the more compelling to experience! While seeing all those banners can be overwhelming at first, each banner stands as an indicator of just how special this program truly is.

Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky stands out amongst sports arenas as an amazing place for experiencing college basketball - it's known as "basketball cathedral." Nowhere can rival Rupp Arena when it comes to experiencing all its energy! Not only that but the venue also houses an impressive collection of memorabilia that honors their history.

Rupp Arena is most recognizable for its spectacular rafters, which display banners commemorating some of college basketball's greatest players from its history. These banners honor those who helped shape Rupp's legendary program while reminding visitors and patrons that this arena truly is a special place.

To gain entry to the rafters, players must first be honored with election to their university's Athletic Hall of Fame and then five years later selected to have their jersey retired in the arena. Since 2008, 37 players have received this distinction with three coaches (Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino) receiving this recognition and Cawood Ledford being recognized with banners hanging in the rafters as well.

Mike Pratt was recently honored by having a banner dedicated to him hang at Rupp Arena - with an inscription reading "Mike Pratt, No. 22 UK Basketball 1954-1956." At an accompanying ceremony which included video tributes as well as remarks from his wife, former teammate Dan Issel, and current coach John Calipari; then later having his jersey was placed into Rupp Arena rafters.

The Tradition

This weekend, the Wildcats recognized one of their true legends by retiring Mike Pratt's jersey to the rafters despite only playing three seasons for them. His influence and dedication are unmistakable as his banner now joins 38 others from UK greats who also now proudly watch over Bluegrass from above.

The Wildcats held a jersey retirement ceremony for Pratt during halftime of their game against Florida on Nov. 17. Presided by veteran Kentucky play-by-play announcer Tom Leach, Marcia Pratt as well as former teammates Dan Issel and Jerry Stackhouse spoke during this ceremony, with UK Coach John Calipari's message prerecorded as part of it all.

Tubby Smith has accomplished much as the head coach of Kentucky Wildcats, yet none compare to having his name immortalized on their rafters. And Tubby knows it.

Being honored to stand amongst the rafters is to become part of an exclusive club worthy of eternal praise - being part of such an institution represents an honorary distinction for its alumni. It's a badge of distinction worthy of infinite appreciation! And that is precisely why so many athletes aspire to join these revered ranks.

Earning your place among Rupp's legendary rafters is no simple task. Each year, hundreds of individuals try and qualify; the selection process takes considerable time. To secure one of these honorary spots, individuals must have had an outstanding career within the program and earned approval from coaching staff - criteria which have contributed immensely to building up what Rupp Rafters represents today.

Rupp Arena is one of the most beloved college basketball arenas, and its rafters have provided a magnificent setting for some of the greatest moments in NCAA history. When fans attend the University of Kentucky games at their Lexington home arena, fans hang banners from its rafters as a tradition known as "Rupp Rafters," honoring special players or memories in team history - this tradition has profoundly altered basketball over generations of fans.

Since their introduction, banners have long been a source of pride among fan bases and provided them with a sense of ownership over their team. Furthermore, banners serve as an effective way for teams to commemorate past seasons while building anticipation for forthcoming ones. From celebrating championship wins or remembering moments that stand out to commemorating memorable achievements; banners remain an inspiring sight at any stadium.

Recently, the Wildcats have been honoring notable alumni who have had an immense impact on the program. Oscar Tshiebwe has earned unanimous Player of the Year honors despite only playing one season for them; making an enduring mark both within his community and on his team.

Rupp Arena may not feature the grandiose architecture found at Boston Garden or Los Angeles Staples Center, yet its rafters remain sacred to those who worship at its altar of hoops. Rupp Arena has witnessed some of college basketball's most significant moments - national championships and perfect seasons among them - over its years-long existence.

UK Sports Information Director Kyle Macy recognized the significance of Rupp Arena rafters by conducting video interviews with former players about their journey. These short-form interviews, known as From the Rafters of Rupp, can now be found online as part of an archive created at UK's Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History - these include interviews from celebrities as well as lesser-known individuals - all have stories they wish to share about their time at UK.

The Banners

Rupp Arena stands as a shrine of college basketball, hosting legendary players like Jamal Mashburn and Derek Anderson for much of their collegiate careers. To earn a place among these sacred rafters is considered the highest honor that any player or coach can receive from the UK; when their banner hangs proudly from Rupp's rafters it marks an era of success for Wildcat basketball.

Banners represent college basketball's finest achievements - national championships, runner-up finishes, and Final Four appearances. Only those who have earned both peers' and fans' respect can occupy this coveted space; those deemed worthy are given iconic nicknames such as "Rupp's Runts" or "The Fiddlin' Five."

Recently, legendary player Tony Delk became one of 38 members to become inductees into the rafters when his jersey was retired. Tony is joined in this elite club by coaches Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, and Rick Pitino, long-term equipment manager Bill Keightley, and revered play-by-announcer Cawood Ledford.

Before being eligible to retire their jerseys, individuals must first become members of their university's Athletics Hall of Fame. A committee comprised of media members, current Hall-of-Famers, campus representatives, and coaches will then evaluate candidates. Once inducted, players or coaches must serve five years before qualifying for jersey retirement.

Mike Pratt was one of the many worthy candidates being considered, yet one name stands out among them all: Dan Issel is calling for Mike Pratt's jersey to join his own in being displayed. Mike died last June at age 73. Issel himself already had his number and name displayed proudly hung in the rafters; now it seems only right for his friend's jersey as well.

The Noise

Rupp Arena was filled with thunderous applause when Tubby Smith's jersey was added to the rafters before the tip-off of Kentucky's game against High Point last week - and rightly so; being recognized with this honor among UK alumni is considered a lofty distinction.

Noise created by thermal expansion and contraction is due to wood's natural response to sun heat: as soon as it hits a roof, lumber heats up and expands causing it to rub against other pieces that don't expand at such an alarming rate, leading to popping noises as parts rub against one another and expand at different rates.

Avoid this situation by bracing rafters with diagonal 2-by-6 material, which will disperse wind loads to all other areas of the structure at once and help absorb its movements.

The Magic

Rupp Arena has been home to some of the greatest and most memorable moments in college basketball history, from legendary players who etched their names into its rafters to special memories created on the court and within fans' minds - creating memories that will live on for generations to come. Rupp Rafters will always hold special places in our memories!

On Saturday evening against High Point, Kentucky fans rose early and showed their appreciation for Mike Pratt - the 39th player whose jersey has been retired in Rupp Arena after Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith had theirs retired.

Banners bearing Pratt's number 22 now proudly hang above the court at Rupp Arena - they will remain there as long as this legendary stadium stands. Thousands of fans attended the ceremony that included remarks from Pratt's wife Marcia, former teammate Dan Issel, and close friend Dan Issel as well as Coach John Calipari through video message; radio play-by-play announcer Tom Leach even came out from his booth during halftime to emcee the event!

Rupp rafters require players to first be elected into the school's Athletics Hall of Fame by an induction committee consisting of current Hall-of-Famers, campus representatives, and current coaches. After that process is complete, and eligible for jersey retirement; an honor more prestigious than anything they may ever experience during their playing days at Rupp.

From The Rafters of Rupp demonstrates how true Kentucky basketball fans focus less on championship wins or NBA success and more on what was done at Kentucky as part of the program, its players, or other things they have accomplished than other programs elsewhere. From The Rafters of Rupp is now available for pre-order! Don't miss this book about one of your favorite programs!

The Greatest Moments

College basketball fans will never forget attending a game at Rupp Arena - the home court of the Wildcats and one of the most iconic venues in college basketball - it holds thousands of memories that span decades from legendary players and championship teams to iconic moments that took place here.

On January 23rd, 2021, an incredible halfcourt shot took place before over 23,000 people at Rupp Arena. Chris McKenzie from Kentucky shot an outstanding shot from halfcourt that won $10K from a Central Bank contest - making history by being the first-ever player to make back-to-back shots for such a challenge! His unforgettable shot will live long into its legacy!

Just days later, C.M. Newton called Pitino and Cameron into an unexpected meeting, to which neither knew anything was coming. Newton informed them they'd be retiring their jerseys to Rupp's rafters as a surprise for all Unforgettable members - an emotional moment they will always cherish.

The Legends

Rupp Arena's rafters are filled with banners of Ruppian legends. While seeing so many names can be daunting at first, seeing their jerseys hanging is a powerful reminder of just how longstanding Rupp has been as an athletic program. All the Unforgettables can be found there!

Mike Pratt joined 38 former Kentucky greats as his jersey was honored during halftime of Saturday night's UK-Florida game with Tom Leach as host, along with former teammate Dan Issel. Both are there to speak about this significant event.

Rupp Arena is one of the greatest places for college basketball and experiencing it live is truly unforgettable. The atmosphere here is electric and the Sea of Blue fans make up one of the greatest fan bases around! Rupp's history in college hoops cannot be replicated anywhere else than at an arena game!

Next week's airings of "From the Rafters of Rupp" are set for 11:30 a.m. ET on WBKI Louisville; 5 p.m. on The CW; 5:30 p.m. in Lexington on WKYT and noon (or possibly 5:30 p.m.), Dec 23 on Huntington WV WQCW and Paducah WPSD respectively - as well as on YouTube channel! 

Feel free to share any memories you have from Rupp Arena too; it truly is an extraordinary space and we would love to hear them all! We welcome any memories shared from Rupp Arena as it truly makes up part of its magic and history - tell us your stories as we want to share ours!

The Home of The Wildcats

Rupp Arena serves as a sacred temple to fans of Kentucky basketball, where legendary figures can be celebrated for their contributions. Rupp's rafters reflect its rich legacy while serving as an inspirational beacon to current players, coaches, and recruits hoping to reach the heights set forth by those before them.

Rupp Arena has been home to the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team since its opening in 1976, bearing its namesake Adolph Rupp's name after an outstanding record at Kentucky and being considered one of the greatest college coaches ever. Over its 22-year existence and three national championship victories under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian's tenure - not forgetting numerous SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament games played here along with even a First Four final four matchup in 1985! Countless generations of Wildcat fans continue making Rupp Arena their place when gameday comes around!

On Saturday when Kentucky takes on High Point at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Tubby Smith will join an exclusive group of 38 former players whose jerseys have been retired in its rafters - an announcement that Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart made public at his pregame press conference and surprised Tubby himself!

Smith was raised in Lexington and attended Kentucky School as an eighth grader. As his sophomore team won the SEC title during that year, he became a starter. By junior season he had earned All-American recognition and received the SEC Player of the Year award. Smith finished his Kentucky career scoring 1,775 points - third most ever scored and an all-time great.

Wildcat fans of all generations were drawn to him, whether old or young. His steady presence in the locker room, an entertaining interview subject for radio show co-host Dan Issel and tireless dedication to children's charities were hallmarks of his character and legacy. Marcia survived him along with their two daughters. This Saturday night will mark a significant moment as Rupp will celebrate by hanging his jersey up high in its rafters in memory of Mark Rupp's contributions as an alumni figure and advocate.

The Memories

Rupp Arena stands as a testament to all those who have made Kentucky basketball such a beloved program, serving as a reminder of just how important Kentucky basketball has become to so many people across Kentucky and beyond.

On Saturday night before Kentucky's matchup against Florida began, a banner was unveiled in the rafters to honor former UK player and broadcaster Mike Pratt. When Pratt stood at center court to accept it, an audible ovation began rising from within the crowd; it would be the only time in his lifetime when his jersey could ever hang from such a significant building that had been his home for 21 years.

It was an unforgettable tribute to one of Kentucky's most beloved players - one who never sought praise for his accomplishments but rather let his actions on the court do the talking. His dedication and commitment were unmatched; he will forever remain part of the Wildcat family with his name proudly hanging in the rafters.

Becoming a Kentucky Hall of Fame member may not have as much prestige, but it remains the ultimate recognition that an athlete from that university and program can receive. Simply put: it doesn't matter how successful an NBA player was; real fans care more about what you did for this university and program than how many rings he/she won; that is what counts up there and will determine their immortality or otherwise.


Shyrece Dickerson

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