In a multimillion dollar industry, it’s hard to believe that those are the coolest shirt designs they could think up to give to conference champions. Oh yeah, caption this photo.
Welp, it’s here. The NBA finals are set. After a few weeks of grueling competition in arguably too-long series (7? really?), the Eastern and Western Conference finals have concluded. The Oklahoma City Thunder sit waiting in one corner, while the Miami Heat wake up this morning having escaped from a 7-game nailbiter series with Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics. While UK may be the NBDL of college teams, the Kentucky Wildcats share a connection to both the Heat and the Thunder. Let’s take a look, and then you can decide which team to cheer for in the finals (unless you’re one of those people who have already decided you hate LeBron and the Heat and wish them the worst).
The strongest UK connection in the NBA in recent memory has certainly been the Boston Celtics. With the ‘Big Three’ being fed easy buckets by former Cat, Rondo, the BBN embraced their alum and many adopted the Celtics. It was fun to cheer for a Cat, as we had gone too long without a UK guy as a top-notch NBA player. The last connection had been with Tayshaun Prince when the Detroit Pistons had a great run (still bummed that team fell apart). But the Heat took out the Celtics, and we’re left with a different player connection…
- Since John Calipari’s arrival, LeBron James has become an adopted Cat in many ways. Obviously, not all Kentucky fans love the guy, but he is a top-2 profile player and his relationship with Cal has brought him into Lexington, to UK games, and caused him to sport Kentucky gear on and off the court. It’s great to see, and very attractive to young superstars looking to find their college destination. The Heat have a UK-title-run-killer in Dwyane Wade, however, along with Dukie Shane Battier. The fact that Jamal Magloire (El Capitan Jones’ personal favorite) is no longer with the Heat takes the UK edge away partially, but the NBA has become a place where the audience becomes fans of players and not teams, unless they are from a geographic region. So with LeBron’s UK ties, there is a good reason to cheer for the Heat.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have the superstar connection to UK, but the Thunder do have UK alum Nazr Mohammed. Having a former Wildcat is an easy way to sway the BBN in your favor. To top it off, the Thunder came into Lexington to train (and play a little). Let’s just say they had a great time both on and off the court, and they’ve gained plenty of fans in kentucky because of their trip here. It’s great to see an entire team latch onto UK as Durant, Harden, Westbrook, and company all did. I can’t blame anyone for cheering for former Cat and a team who came into Lexington.
So what do you say? The finals start up soon, and you’ve got two UK connections to pick between.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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