Phog: The Most Influential Man in Basketball

Phog: The Most Influential Man in Basketball

Phog: The Most Influential Man in Basketball

Phog: The Most Influential Man in Basketball


Remembered in name but underappreciated in legacy, Forrest "Phog" Allen arguably influenced the game of basketball more than anyone else.

In the first half of the twentieth century Allen took basketball from a gentlemanly, indoor recreation to the competitive game that would become a worldwide sport. Succeeding James Naismith as the University of Kansas's basketball coach in 1907, Allen led the Jayhawks for thirty-nine seasons and holds the record for most wins at that school, with 590. He also helped create the NCAA tournament and brought basketball to the Olympics. Allen changed the way the game is played, coached, marketed, and presented.

Scott Morrow Johnson reveals Allen as a master recruiter, a transformative coach, and a visionary basketball mind. Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Wilt Chamberlain, and many others benefited from Allen's knowledge of and passion for the game. But Johnson also delves into Allen's occasionally tumultuous relationships with Naismith, the NCAA, and University of Kansas administrators.

Phog: The Most Influential Man in Basketball chronicles this complex man's life, telling for the first time the full story of the man whose name is synonymous with Kansas basketball and with the game itself.


Judy Allen Morris

He knew me before I formally knew him. My parents took a brief trip and left me with my grandparents for a week when I was six months old. Evidently, my demeanor was a bit demanding and deafening at bedtime. When writing to my Uncle Frank about me, my grandfather would explain that my distraught grandmother would bring me to him and he would perform magic. His explanation was, “I put her head in my left hand and used my right arm and hand to support her back and gave her a general manipulative treatment along the spine, just stretching intervertebral segments. It was not 10 minutes before she took deep breaths and slept for 3 hours.”

Little did I know then that these treatments were the result of a passion that he had since his own childhood. I benefited from the skills he started learning while performing the duties of his mother, who died at a young age, leaving six sons for his father to care for. Always a nutritionist by nature, he planned the meals and included vitamins, natural foods, and some unusual combinations. I’m not sure what horehounds were, but he freely passed them out to my friends—who tried them once and nevermore! I was more familiar with his breakfast routine, which I could hear him undertaking when I spent the night. It consisted of raw eggs, milk, ice, and lemon. No, I never felt inclined to partake of it, but maybe it was . . .

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