John Calipari’s tribute to mentor Gene Bartow

Memphis State coach Gene Bartow comforts Larry Finch at the awards ceremony after the Tigers lost the NCAA final to UCLA in St. Louis in March 1973. Bartow died Tuesday after a long fight with cancer.

Photo by Wayne Crosslin

Memphis State coach Gene Bartow comforts Larry Finch at the awards ceremony after the Tigers lost the NCAA final to UCLA in St. Louis in March 1973. Bartow died Tuesday after a long fight with cancer.

_______________________

In 1972 I was 11 and I shot the basketball with a side arm method that was faulty. My father sent me to a basketball camp headed up by Gene Bartow and he had several of the Memphis St players like Larry Finch, Ronnie Robinson and Larry Kenon (future NBA star) working with kids at the 3 week long camp. Bartow’s son Murry was a friend I made at that camp. He used to take me to lunch at the Memphis University Student Center. I have not stayed in touch with him since then but now he is  the coach at East Tennessee St.

After the camp was over my shooting method was much better and I had a great respect for Gene Bartow. Bartow died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.

Below is a tribute from John Calipari:

Received some very, very sad news Tuesday night. My good friend and mentor, Gene Bartow, passed away Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

Not only was he a great coach, he was a great man. He’s going to be sorely missed.

His wife, Ruth, and I talked Monday morning. Both of us cried knowing that it was coming to an end. My heart and my prayers go out to the Bartow family.

Words will never be able to describe how much Gene meant to me, but I wanted to use this space to offer a little tribute to my dear friend. Here is just a sample of what Gene did during his amazing career:

  • Gene was elected to 10 different Hall of Fames, including the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2009 along with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wayman Tisdale, Jud Heathcote, Walter Byers, Travis Grant and Bill Wall.
  • He is also a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the UAB Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Gene is known as “The Father of UAB Athletics.” He was the school’s first athletics director while serving as the first basketball coach and guided UAB to seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Gene coached at UAB for 18 seasons and led the school to nine total NCAA Tournaments. None of his 18 teams finished below .500.
  • Before UAB, Gene was the coach at UCLA for two seasons. If there was anybody that could succeed legendary coach John Wooden, it was Gene. He took UCLA to the Final Four before leaving for UAB.
  • In 1973 he led Memphis State to the national championship game.
  • Overall, Gene coached 34 years at six universities after coaching two high schools in Missouri for six years. He is one of the all-time winningest college basketball coaches, racking up 647 wins during his career.
  • His six different colleges included Central Missouri State (1961-64), Valparaiso (1964-70), Memphis (1970-74), Illinois (1974-75), UCLA (1975-77) and UAB (1978-1996).
  • Gene coached the Puerto Rican national team in the 1972 Munich Olympics and served as the head coach of the U.S. national team in 1974.
  • He was the president of Hoops LP, the company that owns the Memphis Grizzlies.
  • Gene began his career coaching at the prep level. His 1957 St. Charles team won the state championship.

_____________________

Memphis Houn'Dawgs president Gene Bartow on Nov. 8, 2000.

Photo by A.J. Wolfe

Memphis Houn’Dawgs president Gene Bartow on Nov. 8, 2000.

Gene Bartow coaches the Memphis State Tigers on January 22, 1972.

Photo by Dave Darnell

Gene Bartow coaches the Memphis State Tigers on January 22, 1972.

Gene Bartow, right, as he is honored by the Memphis Grizzlies on December 11, 2009.

Photo by Nikki Boertman

Gene Bartow, right, as he is honored by the Memphis Grizzlies on December 11, 2009.

(left to right) Head Coach Gene Bartow, Larry Finch (21), Ronnie Robinson (33) and  Larry Kenon (35) wait to be interviewed after Memphis State beat Providence in the semi-finals of the Final Four in St. Louis on March 24, 1973.

Photo by The Commercial Appeal files

(left to right) Head Coach Gene Bartow, Larry Finch (21), Ronnie Robinson (33) and Larry Kenon (35) wait to be interviewed after Memphis State beat Providence in the semi-finals of the Final Four in St. Louis on March 24, 1973.

Gene Barton coaches the Memphis State Tigers on December 1, 1970.

Photo by Barney Sellers

Gene Barton coaches the Memphis State Tigers on December 1, 1970.

Coaches John Wooden of UCLA, left and Gene Bartow of Memphis State University are photographed at a press conference in this March 26, 1973 file photo in St. Louis. Wooden called a time-out 35 years ago in the NCAA championship game against Memphis, bringing his UCLA Bruins to the bench. Bill Walton was going off against the Tigers, piling up points inside as fast as the seconds ticked off the clock. (AP Photo, File)

Photo by AP

Coaches John Wooden of UCLA, left and Gene Bartow of Memphis State University are photographed at a press conference in this March 26, 1973 file photo in St. Louis. Wooden called a time-out 35 years ago in the NCAA championship game against Memphis, bringing his UCLA Bruins to the bench. Bill Walton was going off against the Tigers, piling up points inside as fast as the seconds ticked off the clock. (AP Photo, File)

Former Tigers coach Gene Bartow, right, and retired Tiger commentator Jack Eaton trade stories about the 1973 team during a reunion at the Pyramid while team members Ronnie Robinson, left, Wes Westfall and Jim Liss listen on February 16, 2003.

Photo by Jim Weber

Former Tigers coach Gene Bartow, right, and retired Tiger commentator Jack Eaton trade stories about the 1973 team during a reunion at the Pyramid while team members Ronnie Robinson, left, Wes Westfall and Jim Liss listen on February 16, 2003.

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