The Branham family provides a home for Purdue basketball’s legacy
In December 2012, Paul Branham had a surprise for his father. As the pilot of the Boilermaker Special, he was on the crew responsible for driving it to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Only a select few members of the Reamer Club are allowed to drive the Special, and on December 30, 2012, Paul drove past the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to Keller, the north suburb of Fort Worth where he was raised. He had a surprise for his father, Jim: He drove Purdue’s mascot up the hill and into the driveway of his childhood home.
“I had to pull the train into the driveway where I grew up and park it next to the basketball court where I learned to play,” Paul said. “I swear my father could have died a happy man that day.”
The father and son forged a bond through Purdue. Like so many others, Purdue University is a generational thing in the Branham family. Jim Branham graduated from Purdue’s School of Pharmacy in 1977 and is the current President of Reindeer Shuttle, which provides students and Lafayette residents with easy shuttle access to Indianapolis and O’Hare Airports. His son, Paul, is a graduate of Purdue with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nuclear engineering. He now works for Purdue as Industry Business Development Director.
The Branham family home in Keller, Texas is an oasis of Boiler fandom far from West Lafayette. It stands out when you look it up on Google Earth because it has a 66 x 48 basketball court in the backyard with the words “Purdue Boilermakers” on it. “My dad taught my sisters and I to play basketball on this court, and while I was never that good, I grew to love the sport,” Paul said.
It’s no surprise that Jim has this spot in his backyard. His love for the Purdue basketball program dates back more than 50 years. His association with the program is almost as old as Mackey Arena itself. From 1972 to 1975 he was the student coach of Coach Fred Schaus’ basketball team.
During his time at Purdue, the program was very different. Those were the days when Purdue still had a freshmen team because the NCAA didn’t allow freshmen to play. He had to start out as a manager on that freshman team and he was sweating up at Lambert Fieldhouse in the summer because there was no air conditioning. The game days were twice as long because he had to work on the first game before university.
That has paid off over time. He was given a letter jacket which allowed him membership in the Varsity P Club and forged a close connection with the program which continues to this day.
When I was manager from 1972 to 1975 there weren’t that many managers and there was no compensation other than a jacket or windbreaker for each year I served as manager. I believe they have partial scholarships available now but I would need to confirm how many are available. I received a letter jacket for my third year, so as a mail carrier I am a member of the Varsity P Club and eligible to sit in Section 15 along with other mail carriers such as Matt Waddell and Dave Schellhase. This policy was established by Matt Painter, so I’ll always be grateful to him for that.
– Jim Branham
Home to 25 Big Ten Championships
Each of these championships holds a special place in the hearts of Purdue fans. Many have been around for generations, with the first dating back to 1911. If you look at the banners, there’s a very obvious divide. The gap between 1940 and the 1969 Rick Mount team serves as a great demarcation of before and after. The 1940’s and earlier era belongs to the ghosts of the past, while Mount himself serves as a link to the early days of Mackey Arena when he emerges. The 1969 era and beyond is the Mackey era, and the connections made by families watching these teams form the heart of Purdue fandom.
As Purdue won its 24th Big Ten championship in the 2018-19 season, there was some curiosity about the pregame hype video “Our House,” which plays at Mackey Arena before the starting lineups are unveiled. How soon would they bring Gene Keady into the studio to change it from 23 to 24 Big Ten championships?
The answer was known almost immediately when, within minutes of the last buzzer in Evanston as Purdue clinched the league crown, the official Purdue basketball tweeter posted Coach Keady saying, “This is home to 24 Big Ten championships.” .
Because they were able to release this so quickly, it means there is a cache of takes where Coach Keady says 25, 26, 27 and will be available in future seasons as Purdue expands on its championship legacy. Several fans are even wondering if the video for Sunday’s season finale will be updated with Illinois as the 25th championship is already secured.
Luckily, Jim and the Branham family also provide a home for these championships at Mackey Arena. Just a few weeks ago, the showcase for these championships was adorned with “Presented by the Branham Family” thanks to a gift from Jim. When he made his donation, he wanted to make sure that not only himself but also his family was represented.
Jim’s relationship with Purdue dates back to his parents, who were locals who were fans despite not attending Purdue. Jim started attending games when he was 10 and grew up in the days of Bob Griese, Leroy Keyes and Rick Mount. Eventually, he and his sister both attended Purdue to continue the family tradition.
After all this time, Jim was happy to give back to the program that has brought him so much joy over the years.
When I made a significant contribution to the Purdue basketball program, I was not interested in or asking for any special recognition. As COVID came and went, I worried that my post would soon be forgotten and I didn’t want that to happen. So I asked my BAR if JPC and the basketball team could revisit the idea of some kind of special recognition. The only thing that means more to me than a national championship is winning the Big Ten and the Seniors Day trophy! So when they asked which of the available options I would like to support, it was a no-brainer.
– Jim Branham
These championship seasons are always a standout for Purdue fans. 1979 is memorable because it included a win over eventual champion Michigan State. In 1987 and 1988, Everette Stephens’ three amigos were Todd Mitchell and Troy Lewis. Glenn Robinson and Cuonzo Martin (along with a young Matt Painter) starred in 1994-96 3-Pete. Finally, the Baby Boilers would hang a well-deserved banner in 2010, and two more followed in 2017 and 2019.
Discussing with Dad his options for which display to sponsor, he and I both admitted that the loudest reaction in the Mackey pregame video is when Gene Keady says, “There’s 24 Big Ten championships here.” instead of.”
The Branhams have thoroughly enjoyed this season, particularly the surprise trophy being added to the trophy box. Purdue wasn’t a preseason favorite in the conference, having lost so much performance from a team last season that it snagged their 25th Big Ten title.
With Purdue winning that 25th Big Ten championship this week, it means making room in the trophy cabinet and Jim is glad his family can provide a home for that legacy. He says he can provide a little more space if needed:
As for the funds to support a National Championship Trophy, I may have to sell our homes in Indiana and Texas to make this happen! If our Boilermakers find a way to finally cut the nets, I’m sure the Branham family would be proud to sponsor our first-ever NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship!
– Jim Branham
Boiler Upload is now a partner of Seatgeek. Use discount code BOILERUPLOAD to get $20 off your first purchase at Seatgeek.com
https://purdue.rivals.com/news/the-branham-family-provides-a-home-for-the-leagacy-of-purdue-basketball?yptr=yahoo?src=rss The Branham family provides a home for Purdue basketball’s legacy