LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Imagine having the guts to promise your hometown that you’re going to bring the hometown school it’s first national championship...and doing it. In 1980, University of Louisville legend, Darrell Griffith did just that. “Thinking about that promise I made to the city when I signed that it could come into fruition,”said Griffith.
Griff and the Cards took down mighty UCLA 40 years ago. The culmination of a guarantee by Griffith, and a little revenge against a Bruins team who had broken U of L’s hearts in tournament’s past. “I was just so excited to deliver a championship to Louisville. They so...waited for so long to get it. We came up short a couple times,” said Griffith.
While the man known as Doctor Dunkenstein was named MVP, Griff says a play made by his teammate, Jerry Eaves, was the difference in the game. “The biggest play was Jerry Eaves’ play. I mean, his play to deflect KiKi from making that layup was a major play and turning point in the game,” said Griffith.
After that game, rather than riding on the team bus, Darrell Griffith chose to ride back to Louisville with his brother, so he could see the celebration going on in his hometown. “The street that runs behind Crawford Gym is where the bus came in at. We parked in the back of the parking lot in front of Crawford Gym, so we could see the whole view of what was going on, and the campus going crazy. Me and my brother were eating White Castles, drinking Big Red, and just checking out the whole scenery, and I told him, I said 'this is one of the reasons I didn’t want to ride back on the bus, because I wanted to witness and see this from a fan’s point of view,” said Griffith.
During this past basketball season, the 1980 team was honored at the KFC Yum! Center. Griffith says after 40 years, this team is still a tight bunch. “A blessing that most of my teammates that played on this squad are still in town, and you know, for me personally, being from Louisville, that means a lot,” said Griffith.