Blog Entry

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 10:29 pm
John Wooden, left, and Gene Bartow at a press conference on March 26, 1973, in St. Louis. Bartow was coaching against Wooden while at Memphis State. He would succeed him at UCLA less than three years later. (AP)

By Gary Parrish

Hall of Fame basketball coach Gene Bartow died Tuesday night after a long battle with cancer.

He was 81.

Bartow is a notable figure in the sport for three reasons:
  1. He coached Memphis (then Memphis State) to the 1973 national championship game.
  2. He replaced John Wooden at UCLA.
  3. He built UAB's basketball program from scratch.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner told that he spoke with Bartow just last week.

"I called him before our game against Robert Morris, and I told him he was my associate head coach and that I just wanted to get osmosis through him, and he chuckled about that," Pastner said. "When you look at that 1973 team with Coach Bartow and Larry Finch and Ronnie Robinson, that is Tiger Basketball. And it's an honor and a privilage for me to sit in the same chair where he once sat."

Bartow spent his final years working with the Memphis Grizzlies.

That's when I got to know him.

I won't pretend I knew him well because I didn't. But I knew him a little and he was a gentlemen, just one of the best people you could ever hope to meet. People love in times like these to talk about how an individual was a better person than player or better person than actor or whatever, and I almost always roll my eyes because it's cliche and usually untrue. But it really might be true in Bartow's case. He was a Hall of Fame coach and a Hall of Fame man. I've never heard anybody say a bad word about him.

"Gene Bartow was a coach that cared about other coaches," Tweeted former coach Tom Penders. "If you didn't like Gene Bartow, you had a problem."

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:55 pm

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

What a great basketball guy in the middle of football country. Birmingham is an Alabama town but back in the late 70's and 80's the Blazers were as popular as the Tide in basketball. Still remember UAB against Virginia in Birmingham, i want to say it was 80 or 81. Then as I got older I went to the Gene Bartow basketball camp for three years. He was a great teacher of the game and introduced me to a lot of high school basketball coaches I played against. Great guy that will be missed in the baskeball community.

Since: Mar 12, 2011
Posted on: January 5, 2012 2:28 am

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies


On the court one of the best coaches ever; in the court of public opinion and across the board truly a blessing and a treasure to anyone -- really to EVERYONE -- who ever had the pleasure of knowing, working for, playing for, coaching with or against, and coming to know him as one of the nicest and the most genuine individuals you will ever know! EVER!

--Bill "Scoop" Grogan (His & Former SID at Memphis State, 1970-73.)

A Coach's Coach - A Player's Coach - and A Fan's Coach! He was a gamer, a troubadour of kindness and humility who always laid it on the line and let THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD SHINE through...with a kind and considerate good deed or a word of encouragement! WITHOUT A DOUBT -- ONE OF A KIND! And, you can bet that right about now he and Larry Finch and Ronnie Robinson and Wes Westfall of the 1972-73 "Meet Me In St. Louis" Memphis State basketball team are having some kind of an "All For One And One For All" type-of-a-glad-reunion in the courts up above! -- Scoop Grogan!

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Since: Mar 12, 2011
Posted on: January 5, 2012 1:43 am

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies


When they remember, give thanks for, and write about the greatest people anyone has ever worked with and/or known; when College Basketball's final chapter is done, and the final list of The Very Best Basketball Coaches Ever is compiled; if the city of Memphis (TN) were ever to list those who will never be forgotten for who they were and all they did; if the University of Memphis and what was the greatest Memphis State University Basketball Team (the National Runnerup of 1972-73) ever honored a greater Coach, a finer human being, or a more perfect ambassador of sportsmanship and integrity; and when the days of loss and grief are replaced with reassurance and a lifetime full of very special and loving memories for his family, and his associates, friends, coaching foes, and fans, there will always be a very special place in the hearts of anyone and everyone who met, worked with, loved, and knew him as one of the greatest blessings of their lives: COACH GENE BARTOW -- R.I.P.! 

--Bill "Scoop" Grogan (Former Sports Information Director, Memphis State University, 1970-1973) 

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Since: Nov 12, 2011
Posted on: January 4, 2012 11:00 pm

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

Thanks coach, rest in peace.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: January 4, 2012 12:52 pm

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

I am glad that Bartow got to enjoy being a Hall of Famer before he died.  It was a long time coming.  Because he was replacing a legend, Bartow never got the respect he deserved at UCLA.  UCLA fans were used to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, two of the five best of all time, as their centers; Bartow didn't have that luxury.  It made following John Wooden even more of a no-win situation than it would have otherwise been.  
Luckily, his earlier work with Memphis, his later work with UAB, and being a coach who took three different schools to the Final Four was good enough to finally get him in.  

RIP, Mr Bartow. 

Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: January 4, 2012 12:09 pm

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

A true champion!  Thanks Coach for all the great memories!  My thoughts and prayers for the family.

Since: Apr 2, 2010
Posted on: January 4, 2012 11:19 am

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

For some reason..I get this guy mixed up with another NCAA coach.
But it sounds like he was a great guy and a great coach.
God bless and prayers to his family.

Since: Mar 6, 2008
Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:05 am

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

Coach Bartow, thank you for everything you did and stood for.  I’m blessed that I was fortunate enough to know you on a personal level.  You will be greatly missed by everyone. 

Thank you Coach and GO BLAZERS!!

Since: Jun 1, 2009
Posted on: January 4, 2012 9:50 am

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

Pure class and a Memphis legend!

Since: Jul 6, 2010
Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:41 am

Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow dies

I met Coach Bartow when he first got to Birmingham and he was very friendly and remained friends for a long time. I surprised him one day when I went to Los Angles and the Blazers played Duke in some sort of a tournament. I was just about the only one with a Blazer shirt on in the stands.

Saw some great basketball in Birmingham in the 80's. Who can forget UAB beating Ralph Sampson & Virginia to make the final 8 in the NCAA tournament (Lost to eventual National Champion winner Louisville).
Coach Bartow was a great coach and will be missed.  

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