Sometimes it is possible to view the measure of a man by what comes out of his mouth…..as legendary college basketball coach Abe Lemons was one of those folks that seemed to have more to say than most….cuz he was notorious for running his listeners down a rabbit hole….not unlike the white rabbit in the famous Disney tale “Alice in Wonderland”….for there was just no telling what might come out of Coach Abe’s mouth.
So, here are just a few of the famous quotes from A.E. “Abe” Lemons as follows:
“We went to Alaska once and they made us honorary Alaskans. Then we went to Hawaii and they made us honorary Hawaiians. We’re going to the Virgin Islands this year.”
On having multiple plays….“There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket.”
On the challenge of coaching versus other professions…“Finish last in your league and they call you idiot. Finish last in medical school and they call you doctor.”
Response to Howard Cosell….“You may be big in New York, but in Walters, Oklahoma, you’re nobody.”
On MLB Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, who Lemons once tried to recruit to Oklahoma City…..“I told Bench once, ‘If you had come with me, you could be the principal of a high school by now.”
Responding to Digger Phelps talking about the pressures of playing at Notre Dame as an 18-year-old….“I’ll bet that an 18 year old Marine with his face down in the sand, under fire at Iwo Jima was thinking to himself, ‘Gee, I’m glad I’m not a freshman at Notre Dame.”
On jogging….“I don’t jog. If I die, I want to be sick.”
On practice….“One day of practice is like one day of clean living: it doesn’t do you any good.”
On basketball players getting taller…..“This players getting taller thing is getting out of hand. What we need to do is sink the baskets into the floor at each end of the court and recruit midgets.”
On substituting….“I never substitute just to substitute. I play my regulars. The only way a guy gets off the floor is if he dies.”
After his center grabbed one rebound in the 1st half…“That’s one more rebound than a dead guy.”
Coach Abe Lemons would speak to the UT basketball fan booster base every Thursday at noon during basketball season at Bone Daddy’s bar and restaurant Madison Square Garden, The Sports Place, at 302 E. 6th Street in downtown Austin from 1976 – 1982…..as our Bone Daddy compiled an extensive list of “one-liners” from each :Lunch with Abe” program….which he will read to me about every three months….so, I know many more “Abe-isms” than anyone I know….as the truth be known….I treasure every piece of footage we have on Coach Abe Lemons….an original basketball genius and mentor unlike any other.