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Cats in the NBA

Former Kentucky Players in the NBA

Jay Bilas says “it’s possible” for UK to beat the 76ers

The debate is so out of hand that former Cats are fighting over it.

Whether or not Kentucky could beat the Philadelphia 76ers is the pointless debate that will never end, and today, ESPN’s Jay Bilas and Jeff Goodman chipped in their thoughts. I’m sure you can guess what Goodman thinks, but Bilas admitted that “it’s possible” Kentucky could beat Philadelphia, but only because the 76ers are so bad:

Kentucky could beat Philadelphia. It’s possible. But, that says less about how good Kentucky is, and more about just how historically bad Philadelphia is. The more pertinent question this team is facing is whether it is the worst team in NBA history. If Kentucky could beat Philadelphia, the next question is whether Philadelphia would really qualify as an NBA team.

Ouch. Read the whole debate over on ESPN Insider. Hopefully it’s the last we’ll hear about this or I’ll have to start doing this:

Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe remind us of la familia

Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe remind us of la familia

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 9.07.36 AM

Over the weekend, Eric Bledsoe and Nerlens Noel made headlines for getting into a shoving match that reportedly stemmed from Bledsoe’s comments about Kentucky beating the 76ers in a matchup that will never happen. In case you missed the Cat on Cat crime, here’s footage.

Last night, la familia was a little friendlier, as Eric Bledsoe’s Suns faced off against Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes’ Raptors. Bledsoe had 25 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in the Suns’ loss, while Patrick Patterson had 2 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Patrick posted this picture of the two on Instagram after the game with the caption “Great game & great effort by both teams tonight.. Always good seeing my brother @ebled2.. Miss the old days at UK. #lafamilia #brothers #bbn.”

Nice shoes.

The Tao of “The Brow”: Anthony Davis’ Selfless Path to Immortality

2012 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

The Talmud tells the story of Rabbi Hillel the Elder, wandering the streets of ancient Jerusalem, accosted by a smart aleck stranger.  “Rabbi Hillel,” the intruder shouted, “I challenge you to teach me the entire Bible while standing on one foot.”

Hillel didn’t hesitate. He stood on one foot and exclaimed: “Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the whole Bible.  All the rest is commentary.  Now go and learn it!”

Hillel’s words reveal a universal morality.  Every single one of the world’s religious traditions holds at its very core the same notion:  That when we act on behalf of others, when we abandon our own selfish instincts and serve the greater community, that’s when we are most holy.  That’s when we are doing God’s work.

It’s also the Tao of “The Brow.”

And remarkably, Anthony Davis’ deep and sturdy spirit of unselfishness is propelling him into the pantheon of American sport.


I’m often asked by my coastal friends how a Jewish pischer like me could win statewide election in an inner notch of the Bible Belt.  It’s simple, I tell them: There’s only one state-established religion in the Commonwealth, and that’s Wildcat basketball. (Besides, Kentucky features some of the most rabid anti-Christian hatred in the country.  Christian Laettner, that is.)

I exaggerate only slightly.  As I discussed in my inaugural KSR column, it’s tough to over-estimate the spiritual connection between the people of Kentucky and our beloved hoops squad. On game day, much of our diverse and often deeply divided Commonwealth joins in one voice; we become a coherent and inter-dependent congregation.

Rupp Arena is the cathedral of our devotion, with its own set of religious rites.  Consider the “Y”:  After a group of cheerleaders contort their bodies to spell out the first seven letters of the state’s name, a special luminary remains alone at center court as the letter “Y”: the equivalent of a high priest standing in the middle of the Great Temple, reaching toward the heavens, bringing the blue-attired parishioners to their feet and lifting the faithful into frenzied revival.

When play resumes, this same community spirit is modeled on the hardwood.  Coach John Calipari regularly recruits the nation’s top talent; but the Cats win only when Cal convinces his players to check their egos at the locker room door, forget about their personal scoring stats and work in the team’s best interest.  This is another universal truth: The sport’s greatest icons — Michael, LeBron, Wilt — all earned their place in hoops lore only after they learned to surrender their own ball-hogging self-interest for the common good.

As Anthony Davis prepares to join this elite list, he already gets it. Maybe he was born that way.  Or perhaps his bounty was born out of necessity.

What’s certain is that The Brow wasn’t born a superstar.  Unlike many of his NBA contemporaries, Davis didn’t spend his childhood or even most of his adolescence lifted up on a hard court pedestal, coddled by ego-stroking, money-grubbing sycophants, grasping to exploit his inevitable celebrity.  He didn’t have the chance to pick up all of the narcissistic habits that too often result from excessive teenage entitlement.  His path to primacy materialized, almost suddenly, from the ether.

To put Davis’s supersonic career trajectory into perspective, consider where he was in 2009.  This was just five years ago: Barack Obama was already President; Justin Bieber was already infamous; our cineplexes were already filled with X-Men, Transformers, and Twilight vampires.  Unless you are reading this from your college dorm, you probably looked the same.

Not Anthony Davis.  In 2009, he was 6 foot 3, a skinny high school sophomore point guard who had been recently known as “the little guy who would shoot threes from the corner.” Only one Division 1 school was recruiting him: Cleveland State. (Yes, the C-State Vikings are D1; they play in that powerhouse conference known as the Horizon League.)

In 2009, Davis wasn’t touring the country on the AAU circuit; instead, he was working out with his cousins on guard drills that his uncle had developed.  He was receiving a solid high school education — the Perspectives Charter School that he had attended since sixth grade is a reputable science and math academy — but they weren’t known for balling:  His junior year team finished 8-15.

And then…Anthony Davis grew.  By senior year, Davis reached 6 foot 10, lit up the Chicago Public High School League (on a still-lousy team), and drew the notice of coaches, shoe sellers, agents, fans, boosters…well, everybody. You know the rest: McDonald’s All-American, first team Parade All-American, year-early projection as an NBA lottery pick, and of course, signed by the program with THE GREATEST TRADITION IN THE HISTORY OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL.

To recite Davis’ accomplishments in his magical 2011-12 season in Blue and White would insult even the most casual KSR reader.  But here are some of the most instructive highlights:

That one of the most talented young men ever to lace up UK Nikes was principally hailed for his defense, only scoring an average of 14 points a game…

That his signature regular season moment was not some acrobatic slam dunk, but rather an iconic blocked shot, swatting away a John Henson eight footer with four seconds left to preserve a one-point victory over arch-rival North Carolina…

That in the NCAA championship game, on his way to being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Davis hadn’t scored a single point by halftime…

And that, as more often than not, the consensus national player of the year fundamentally controlled the choreography of the Big Dance through his unselfish passing, gritty defense, and imposing court presence.

The quiet, dignified, most-skilled athlete on an über-talented squad, Anthony Davis modeled Calipari’s symbiotic system from the moment he slipped on the number 23.

In short, the tall teenager was the ultimate team player.

The transition from teen idol to NBA stardom wasn’t easy.  His first two seasons were plagued by crippling injuries and subpar teammates. But sometime last year, Davis had a counterintuitive revelation:  That sometimes the most unselfish behavior requires more self-focused responsibility.

Cue again Rabbi Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

Last spring, Davis determined that the time was now.  Force-feeding himself a heavy dose of self-confidence (and apparently, protein), he agonizingly built up muscle, furiously refined his offensive skills, and maybe even grew another inch or two.  Last March featured a 10 game stretch in which he averaged 29.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks a game.  And this fall, after a dozen games, Davis is averaging more than 26 points and 11 rebounds an outing (including a monstrous personal best 43/14 Saturday), as well as nearly 4 blocked shots a contest.  While Kevin Durant wears street clothes, Anthony Davis is now, almost out of nowhere, widely considered the best hoopster on the planet not named LeBron.

Anthony Davis’ basketball immortality will be determined over the next few years by his ability to translate his selfless spirit into true leadership — that is, the proverbial lifting up of his fellow teammates (or perhaps like King James, assembling a complimentary group of stars around him.)  But ultimately, Davis’ success will rest on remembering how far he’s come — and grown — without the suffocating entitlement that too often consumes our young sports stars.

So every day, this bright young man grateful for his unique, late-blooming gifts, and dedicated to empowering the community around him toward mutual progress, will likely continue to leap forward, toward common higher ground.

And in doing so, Anthony Davis will provide a model for the rest of us.

That is the Tao of “The Brow.”  All the rest is commentary.  Now go and learn it.

Former Cats take over the league leaderboard

Former Cats take over the league leaderboard


While the current Cats are dominating college basketball, it’s nice to know that the former Cats are doing pretty well for themselves in the NBA. Four different former Cats lead the league in statistical categories: Rajon Rondo in assists; DeMarcus Cousins in rebounds; Anthony Davis in blocks; and John Wall in steals. Davis even leads the NBA in player efficiency rating (PER) at 35.9, the only tarter in the league with a PER higher than 28. Phew. The Sporting News’ Sean Deveney argues that makes Davis the clear frontrunner for MVP:

We are only a month into the season, but already, Davis has established himself as an All-Star shoo-in — and, though it is obviously early in the year, it is not too early to consider Davis the easy front-runner in the NBA’s MVP race.

Keep cleaning up, boys.

[Sporting News]

Watch Davis’ Career-High Game Highlights


We’ve all heard about it, now let’s see it as it happened.  Anthony Davis had a phenomenal night against the Utah Jazz, putting up 43 points and 14 rebounds.  As we wait for tonight’s tip-off, why not check out the highlights of his career performance.

After being the #1 pick in the NBA Draft, we knew he’d become an elite star, but it happened so quickly.  As you watch the video, just look at how much better Davis’ jump shot has improved.  Not only does he dominate in the paint, but his mid-range game has become crazy good for a player his size.  Keep it up, big guy!

That slam at 3:36….whew!  Can you imagine how good New Orleans will be if they continue to surround him with better players?  They’ll be unstoppable.


ICYMI: Anthony Davis is Good at Basketball

If you went to sleep early last night, you missed the best performance of Anthony Davis’ young NBA career as the Pelicans defeated the Jazz 106-94. Davis finished with a career-high 43 points and 14 rebounds. The uni-blocker was hyper efficient, shooting 16-23 from the floor and abusing defenders on the pick and roll, in the mid-range game and driving to the basket. He was even 11-12 from the free throw line. You name it, Davis scored it.

Take a look at his shot chart from last night and relish in this sweet, sweet time for Kentucky basketball. Singlehandedly dominating the college AND the professional game.




Charles Barkley says DeMarcus Cousins can’t whoop his ass

Following Sacramento’s win over Chicago on TNT last night, Ernie Johnson asked Charles Barkley about his feud with DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins recently said he has no respect for Barkley and never will, while Barkley insists he is only doing his job when he is critical of Cousins’ maturity.

But then Barkley’s explanation took a turn when he said, “I don’t know the kid at all. But I do know one thing, he can’t whoop my ass.”

“It will be some furniture moving if he ever puts his hands on me.”

Watch the entire clip below:

John Wall rejects Chandler Parsons

Lately, it seems like hardly a day goes by when we don’t have a highlight of an NBA Cat to share, and this morning, it’s John Wall. Last night, Wall spoiled Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons’ 2-on-1 break last night with this ridiculous block, and with his left hand, no less.

Good grief.

Brandon Knight missed an easy game-winner

Knight stole the ball and took it the other way for the game win… DOH!

His teammates couldn’t believe it:

Eric Bledsoe “definitely” thinks UK could beat the 76ers

Photo by Barry Gossage |

Photo by Barry Gossage |

When asked who he would take in a 7-game series, Kentucky or the Philadelphia 76ers, Eric Bledsoe told Brian Geltzeiler and Malik Rose on SiriusXM radio this morning that he’s ‘definitely” going with the Cats.

I’m definitely taking Kentucky,” Bledsoe said. “I think Philly would get probably, maybe one game. I know they’re (Sixers fans) gonna be mad, but I love my Wildcats. “

We love you, too, Eric.


Anthony Davis is Not Human

He blocks two shots in three seconds…amazing

Former Cats lead four of the NBA’s five main statistics right now

Former Cats lead four of the NBA’s five main statistics right now


Meanwhile, Anthony Davis leads the league with an outstanding 35.33 Player Efficiency Rating, ahead of Brandan Wright, Dirk Nowitzki, and your boy Boogie at No. 4.

Not a bad start to the year for the Wildcats.

Great read on the real Boogie and why Charles Barkley doesn’t exist to him

boogie selfie mysportslegion

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report has an excellent piece on DeMarcus Cousins and how he’s “strong-willed, maturing, and misunderstood” entering his fifth season in the league. As you all know, KSR will always have Boogie’s back and we love to see when someone else joins in in support of our favorite NBA player. So we like Bucher’s latest work.

However, this particular article includes an in-depth look at Cousins’ non-existent relationship with Charles Barkley — who we also like — and why Cousins has zero respect for his fellow ‘Bama boy. Cousins won’t even speak to Sir Charles when they’re together:

The two have spent considerable time around each other, particularly of late, but Cousins, who has been wounded by Barkley’s comments about him, has been steadfast in refusing to speak to Barkley or acknowledge his presence.

That is how Cousins views Barkley, and it’s why, in spite of playing for him on All-Star Weekend in the Rising Stars Challenge, sharing a dais in Sacramento with him for their mutual friend, Mayor Kevin Johnson, and spending a week together in Spain this summer, he refuses to acknowledge Barkley’s presence.

Mention that Barkley doesn’t believe the cold shoulder is merited, and Cousins responds as if Barkley is standing directly in front of him:

“I have no respect for you and I never will. We have nothing to talk about. So, yes, every time we see each other, there will never be words.”

I encourage you to check out when you get a chance. The whole piece is a great look at Boogie and his maturation, not just the feud with Barkley.

Meet the Real DeMarcus Cousins: Strong-Willed, Maturing, Misunderstood

Kobe Bryant says Anthony Davis can be “one of the greatest power forwards who has ever played”

Is there a more beloved player in the pros right now than Anthony Davis? Davis is universally praised and considered the next big superstar in the league. So far this season, Davis is averaging 24.8 points, 12 rebounds, and 4.2 blocks per game, making him only the second player in league history to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks at age 20 or younger. The first player in NBA history to do that? Shaquille O’Neal. Davis also has the highest player efficiency rating in the league at 35.79.

Davis’ dominance is so impressive that he even got a compliment from Kobe Bryant. “He’s an athletic Pau Gasol,” Bryant said of Davis last night. “That’s the best way I can put it. He can be one of the greatest power forwards who has ever played.

Whoa. It’ll be interesting to see what Kobe has to say after the Lakers and the Pelicans face off tonight.

[Bleacher Report]

The Top UK Players in the NBA, Week 2

The Top UK Players in the NBA, Week 2


Stats Via ESPN

Brandon Knight, game winner. Jones and the Rockets rolled to 6-0. Bledsoe and the Suns have given Golden State their only loss.  Kentucky guys are getting it done all over the map and we’re just in week two. Here are my picks for the guys who shined over the past week:

5. Patrick Patterson

Cat V Cat

Patman’s stats haven’t been setting the league on fire this season but it’s time his part in the Raptor’s league best 6-1 record gets a shoutout. P-Pat is averaging 7 points per game while playing 25 minutes in Toronto’s balanced attack. With Amir johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry the Raptors don’t need Patterson to be an offensive force. He just provides solid minutes of the bench and helps Toronto look like the team to beat in the east. Pat and the Raptors are currently playing Orlando on NBATv.

4. Rajon Rondo

Rondo can’t do it all for the Celtics but sometimes he’s going to try. Rondo enters the top UK players list in week 2 after posting a triple double in a close loss to the Raptors. Rondo finished with 13 points, 15 assists and 10 boards to post his first triple-doub this year but he’s gotten close a couple other times times. The Celtic recently underwent surgery to remove a screw from his hand and is expected to return tomorrow night against the Thunder. 

3. John Wall

Wall continues to impress in Washington as he posted his second 30 point game of the season last week against the Pacers. With Bradley Beal expected to be out for another month JW has done an excellent job keeping the Wizards afloat in a crowded Eastern conference. Wall and company have only lost to the east-leading Raptors and Heat and will now move on to an easier slate of games. It kicks off tomorrow in Detroit.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

Here are some stats for Big Cuz. 9th in the NBA at 23 points per game. 8th in the NBA with 11.1 rebounds per outing. 4 double doubles. A 5-2 record. DeMarcus has done all this despite racking up a second-best 4.9 fouls per game. If he can get the foul situation under control and stay on the court for more than 30 minutes, watch out. Even so the big man has made another leap forward and looks prime for another stellar season.

1. Anthony Davis

Gif Via Deadspin

Look at that first picture of the NBA’s stat leaders. Anthony Davis is currently among the top 5 players in the NBA in 4 different categories. He’s a one man show in New Orleans  who are a surprising 3-3 with a win over the defending champs. If Davis can lead the Pelicans to the playoffs in just his third season in the league you can bet the big man will garner his share of MVP votes.

Who impressed you most this past week?