Students, family and friends in the University District love Memphis basketball as basketball has been a part of the Memphis soul for decades .
One thing that gets lost in the shuffle of the on-court success is the people who do work behind the scenes.
Among this group is a gentleman named Kenneth “Bear” Harden.
Harden is a 42-year-old native of Brownsville, Tenn. He first came to the city of Memphis and the University of Memphis in 2000 as a student.
He graduated from the U of M in 2008 with a bachelor’s and professional studies degree in Sports Management.
“Bear,” as he is commonly called, was the Tiger men’s basketball team manager for six seasons from 2006-2012.
“Kenneth was a fantastic worker for me," Josh Pastner said. "Dedicated, reliable, countable, and dependable. Plus, he was a very high character human being."
Harden worked under former U of M and current University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari before working with Pastner.
Of working under Calipari, he said, “It’s challenging, not just any manager can work with Coach Cal.”
Harden is in his sixth season serving as a team attendant for the Memphis Grizzlies.
When he is not working practices or games for the Grizzlies, Harden can be found working at the U of M campus recreation center or at his home in the University District, just blocks from the main campus.
“I love my neighbors," he said. "Puts me close to my job and within walking distance."
Harden is an avid Tiger basketball fan and has been watching the team play since the late 1980s, and said his favorite player of all time is Marcus Nolan, who played for the U of M from 1991 to 1995.
“What I like about him most is that he’s a Christian,” Harden said.
Harden predicts the Tigers will make the Sweet 16 this season, but “they could go further, it’s just a matter of them getting it done.”
Harden said that the best part of his job is getting to meet so many new people.
Many people greet Harden every day at the rec center or see him running up and down the floor at the FedExForum grabbing towels and sweats without realizing who is he or the hard work that he puts in day in and day out.
Harden’s love for the game of basketball and passion for helping out others makes him stand out among the University District’s hidden treasures.