Sooner or later, any true devotee of basketball and its fascinating history needs to make his or her way to Lawrence. From exciting Jayhawks home games to the stories and trophies associated with legendary coaches and players, Lawrence has it all!
"PAY HEED, ALL WHO ENTER"
A banner hanging from the north end of Allen Fieldhouse warns: Pay Heed, All Who Enter: BEWARE OF “THE PHOG.” The message is ominous indeed to visiting rivals during Jayhawks home games. As the series of championship titles just below the banner make clear, University of Kansas Men’s Basketball is a nationally known powerhouse. And there is no better place to soak up college hoops and the mystique of legendary coach Phog Allen than here at the team’s arena.
In 2010, David Booth made the winning bid in a Sotheby’s auction for James Naismith’s original 13 rules of “basket ball.” Within these two sheets of typewritten paper lay the athleticism and fair play that quickly transformed Dr. Naismith’s invention into an international sport. In 2016—thanks to a gift from KU graduate Paul DeBruce and the Debruce Foundation—the rules were installed in a new facility along with other artifacts. If all this hoops history gets your appetite going, you’re in luck: the DeBruce Center also boasts several restaurants and a coffee shop! This museum is just a short walk away from Allen Fieldhouse and the Booth family Hall of Athletics.
Just off the sideline of Allen Fieldhouse stands another star attraction: the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. Made possible through the generosity of diehard Jayhawks fans, this museum pays tribute to KU athletes in all fields and eras with interactive exhibits, a basketball championship trophy case, and other stunning displays. The museum has undergone costly renovations twice in the past ten years and features exhibits about Coach Phog Allen and basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith. This stunning shrine to KU’s premier sport is free to the public.
KU’s Robinson Center is a “triple threat”: health, sports, and heritage. The first Robinson Gymnasium, built in 1907, stood on Jayhawk Boulevard. Under the guiding hand of Physical Education Department chair (and basketball creator) Dr. James Naismith, Robinson developed into a regionally known gymnasium. The current Robinson Center functions as the home of KU’s Department of Health, Sport, & Exercise Sciences, featuring classrooms, laboratories, and extensive exercise facilities.
HOME OF THE FIGHTING INDIANS
HASKELL INDIAN NATIONS UNIVERSITY
For much of its storied history, Haskell has stood for Native American achievement on and off playing fields. (Jim Thorpe added professional basketball to his resume years after attending Haskell, though this aspect of his amazing career remains largely unknown.) While the 119-year-run of its football team attracted the most attention, the Fighting Indians continue to be well represented by men’s and women’s basketball teams. But Haskell’s history is certainly not limited to athletics. The school’s cemetery dates from 1885—the year after its founding—and serves as a reminder of its tragic beginnings as a boarding school for native American children uprooted from their homes in the name of assimilation.
WHERE TOP SEEDS ARE SEEDED
LAWRENCE HIGH SCHOOL
The KU campus is hardly the only local source of fun and history for basketball lovers. Boasting 160 years of history, over 100 sports championships, and a long list of distinguished alumni, Lawrence’s first and largest high school is a city institution. KU All-Americans Paul Endacott and Danny Manning both got their start at LHS, and the Chesty Lions lead the pride when it comes to state championships in basketball.
HOOPS, HERITAGE AND MUCH MORE
WATKINS MUSEUM OF HISTORY
No exploration of local basketball is complete without a visit to the Watkins. In this beautifully preserved Gilded Age building you’ll encounter inspiring stories, images, and artifacts from Douglas County’s history. Meet the Lawrence Promoters, the all-black high school team that played through nearly 33 years of segregation. Examine a jersey worn by star Jayhawk Adrian Mitchell-Newell. Discover how KU All-American Wilt Chamberlain dunked on prejudice in the 1950s by leading the local fight against segregation. It’s all here at the Watkins, another free destination for Lawrence visitors and residents!