Practice at the Palestra

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 1:30 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Dec 3, 2010 11:55 AM CDT

There is a ton of basketball history here, scores of NBA players who went head to head in &quot;Big 5&quot; battles between the schools who have at one time called the Palestra home. Built in 1927 on the Penn campus, the Quakers have shared the building at some point with Temple, St. Josephs, Villanova and OSUs Saturday opponent, La Salle.<BR/><BR/>Its a classic old gym. Who knows how many coats of paint are on the concrete steps and under the bleachers in the upper section. Sunlight sneaks in through the windows near the top of a vaulted ceiling. The Palestra seats about 8,000. At one time that was huge, but now its a smaller venue by division one standards.<BR/><BR/>In the corridors are pictures of former Big 5 MVPs, players like Tom Gola, Jameer Nelson, Mark Macon, Kerry Kittles. A banner from Villanovas improbable 1985 NCAA title hangs in a case. A mix of old and more recent, even from the citys high school legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Earl &quot;The Pearl&quot; Monroe and Kobe Bryant. <BR/><BR/>In the 40s the gym was converted to a Navy mess hall, in the 60s Simon and Garfunkel performed here. The late coaching legend Chuck Daly said being at the Palestra was like having warm maple syrup poured all over you. Im assuming that was a good thing.<BR/><BR/>I dont know how many of OSUs current players will have an appreciation for such history. Maybe theyll look back someday and remember that time they played in that old building in Philly and smile, but probably only if they beat the Explorers on Saturday.</P>