The Palestra, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is my favorite places to watch college basketball games. As a diehard Big 5 basketball fan, the Palestra is held near and dear to my heart.
Originally the home to all Big 5 games, the Palestra is the home arena of the Penn Quakers and a good amount of Big 5 match-ups. Many great match-ups are still played there and many Big 5 titles are still either lost or won their.
In a city where basketball is life, it is only fitting that the Palestra is still around from the “glory days” of Philly hoops. Walking through the hallways with my family, I can’t help but keep my eyes on the wall to look at all the pictures of the greats to play here.
It amazes me every time to see how many classic basketball games can be played in one arena. I hear my dad often tell me stories of how when he was a student at St. Joseph’s, they would have Big 5 double headers that would sell out for both days. I can’t imagine how great that would be.
Many of the memories of the Palestra for me are of watching St. Joe’s play either Villanova, Temple, or Penn. These games are all heated rivalries, and always bring out the best of both teams.
Earlier in this year I traveled to a game at the Palestra between the Hawks and the Quakers. This game was a blowout in the end, with the Hawks winning 79-59, but it felt like it was a dead heat all the way through. The games here always draw a large fan base, eager to see classic Philly ball, and that is what happened.
The reason I am always enthralled with games at the Palestra is because of the split arena, half one team and half the other. This makes every single game seem like it is a rivalry. Games between bitter rivals St. Joe’s and Villanova will usually include comedic banners and a very close game.
The Palestra will always have a spot in my heart, and a game here will never get old. I love the feeling of walking to the games with my father and brother, all of us talking excitedly about the game ahead. Big 5 basketball is one thing, but Big 5 basketball at the Palestra is a whole different game.
I hope that they can bring back more games to the Palestra, and try to do the double-headers more often. One person can’t get enough of to much Philly basketball. I love the Palestra and I will always come back.