I was born and raised in Kentucky. I’m still here and I have no idea if I’ll ever leave. Here’s the catch: I am NOT a Kentucky fan. Have I ever like the Wildcats? Yes. Although I have no memory of it, I was 2 when Kentucky won their 5th title in 1978, if you have a friend named “Kyle”, he/maybe she was born in ’78. When I became aware of UK basketball, I loved it! I loved the early 80’s squads…Kenny “Sky” Walker, Winston Bennett, the late Melvin Turpin, Roger Hardin, Dicky Beal, and head coach, Joe B. Hall.
I don’t know why, but when Eddie Sutton took over as head coach in 1985, my attitude changed. Even when Owensboro native Rex Chapman joined the Cats in 1986, Owensboro is 20 miles from where I grew up, I still turned away. Then I noticed all the scandals popping up and the team would be placed on post-season probation for two years. Sutton was gone and then enter current Louisville coach Rick Pitino. My hatred grew more intense. Pitino led the Cats to a 6th title in 1996 and he would depart briefly for the NBA. Pitino’s former assistant, Tubby Smith, took the reins and he would lead the Cats to another title just two years later (’98).
I have always acknowledged Kentucky generally has a good team every year. This year, UK, under uber-recruiter/dribble-drive guru John Calipari, was the best team in the nation and they deserved the championship. That’s not a typo! When I filled out my various brackets, I picked UK to win it all in more than half, which evokes two reactions: “duh!?” or “thank God!” Then my worst nightmare was realized this past weekend, UK would be playing Louisville in the National Semi-finals. Oh Lord, please have mercy! One of the most famous rivalries in all of college basketball would be re-ignited in the NCAA tournament’s final weekend. In the yearly match-up, UK won by seven and this past Saturday, UK won by eight. To be honest, Kansas never had a chance, and dare I say, Louisville could have probably beaten the Jayhawks. Damn the bracket busters! When I saw UK was up by as many as 18, I kept thinking “this is not the championship game I wanted.” If Kansas hadn’t kicked into second gear in the second half, Kentucky would have won by 25+. That is domination.
Now UK has their title, and their fans? They might have gotten out of hand. Here’s a picture from the post-Louisville win Saturday night:
Fire! And wouldn’t you know, some UK fans wanted to remind us, not ALL fans are like that. I believe them. Riots, hard partying, and fires go hand-in-hand with championships; I was afraid things would be worse last night. Well, someone was shot. But I doubt it was related to the wild celebrations. I can testify when the final horn sounded last night, I heard nothing, not a peep from my neighborhood. ???? However, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were jam-packed with the UK championship reminders. No comment.