After 30 hours, 600 miles, one win, and probably three gallons of caffeine, I am back →
Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Drew Franklin on ©March 03rd, 2015 @ 11:00am
No one is entirely sure why Patrick Patterson wore oven mitts on the Toronto bench last night, but it’s a thing that happened in the Raptors’ game in Philadelphia.
The only logical explanation is he wanted to keep his hands warm, because that’s what gloves do, but even that is a little bizarre. Maybe he has a new endorsement deal with Rachel Ray.
CelticsBlog.com believes Brad Stevens needs to cut back on James Young’s minutes if Stevens has any intention of making the playoffs. With reasons like “Young is getting hosed defensively” and “Young sticks out like a sore thumb on film,” and numbers to back it all up, writer Kevin O’Connor makes a very strong case for sending the former Cat to the bench. Or back to Maine.
It’s not all because of Young’s defensive struggles, either; he is having problems with what he normally does well, too:
Young has the potential to be a knockdown three-point shooter, but the product of Kentucky has hit just 11 of his 48 three-point attempts this season, and is just 15.4 percent from downtown in the last six games. Young is not producing in the area he supposedly excels the most, and he isn’t making up for it elsewhere.
Boston is still in contention for a playoff spot in the East so, like O’Connor writes, now is not the time to be experimenting with an underachieving rookie. We love James and want the best for him, but it’s just not his time. Not yet.
For lots more on Young’s rookie season in Boston, including stats and film, check out the entire piece here.
For Cats fans, any Game Day in Rupp Arena is a special, even spiritual, experience. Some contests — rivalry games, tough conference matchups — can be especially exceptional: the crowd is unusually animated; the cathedral’s congregation united in one voice.
And then, there are the truly otherworldly experiences. When the play just seems preposterous; when the fan volume overwhelms and uplifts; when the stranger sitting next to you feels like family, everyone captured by the magic of the moment.
December 8, 2001 may have topped them all.
The day was particularly special to me: My dad, who had been battling cancer, felt strong enough to join me for the first time that season. Like so many other fathers and sons, Kentucky basketball was an unshakable bond between us: Even through the awkward teen years, when I was too embarrassed to hug or say “I love you,” we always had the Cats in common — Goose and Macy and Bowie and Dirk and Sky and on and on. In 2001, by now in my thirties, I still was a little chagrined that he wore his baby-blue V-neck cashmere sweater — the hue was far too close to University of North Carolina Blue, that game’s opponents.
Apparently, though, the sweater was a lucky charm. Two minutes into regulation, the unranked visitors had scored the game’s first four points. But then, sophomore guard Gerald Fitch found senior Tayshaun Prince at the top of the key, and the lanky but graceful forward stroked his signature southpaw three-point shot. The Tar Heels scored another basket, and Prince topped it with another three from just beyond the center of the arc. Two more UNC twos were answered with two more Tayshaun threes, this time from closer to the right corner.
And then…Fitch stole the ball in the Carolina front court, handed it to Prince, who ambled down the court. And then — suddenly — his foot grazing the “U” of the center-court logo — he threw up a forty-plus foot jumper…
Nothing but net.
Words simply fail. Watch the whole series yourself:
It turned out to be the last game my dad would attend — a fitting fashion to retire his baby-blue sweater.
But for Tayshaun, it was merely the capstone of a spectacular four-year career in blue and white — a record of triumph that places Prince among the greatest of Wildcat greats. That’s why I hope that the next time we see the long-limbed lefty strolling toward center court in Lexington, it will be to witness his jersey being retired in Rupp Arena’s rafters.
For a team with THE GREATEST TRADITION IN THE HISTORY OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL, it’s perhaps the most special tradition of all.
Last week, during halftime of the Auburn blowout, superstar guard Tony Delk entered the pantheon of Kentucky basketball majesty, as the drapes were raised on a larger-than-life replica of his 00 jersey, just caddy corner in the nosebleeds of Rupp to the 1996 championship banner he helped to bring to Lexington. In the century-plus history of the elite of elite college hoops programs, Delk is only the 38th player so honored, with three coaches (Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, and Rick Pitino) and two street-clothed icons (broadcaster Cawood Ledford and equipment manager Bill Keightley) rounding out the remarkable array.
The ritual was born early in the Rupp era, when the legendary coach presented his 1940 captain, Mickey Rouse, with his uniform at the team’s annual banquet. Nine years later, Rupp retired the jerseys of the “Fabulous Five” — Alex Groza, Cliff Barker, Ralph Beard, Kenny Rollins and Wah Wah Jones — who won two national championships and Olympic Gold in 1948. Two other team groupings later received a similar honor: seven members of the undefeated 1954 squad (Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey, Lou Tsioropoulous, Bill Evans, Gayle Rose, Jerry Bird and Phil Grawemeyer); and, lest we forget, the Unforgettables (Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, John Pelphrey and Sean Woods), who helped restore a scandal-plagued program on the road back to glory.
But for the remainder of the honorees, the jersey symbolizes individual achievement, both on and off the Cat court. For decades, this highly subjective selection was approached on an ad hoc basis, with the head coach often dictating the rules and standards.
That all changed when Mitch Barnhart was named UK’s Athletic Director. According to Tony Neely, UK’s Assistant Athletic Director, Barnhart was committed to standardizing and formalizing the way the school’s athletic heroes were honored.
Accordingly, in 2005, the UK Athletics Hall of Fame was inaugurated, and its charter class included 88 athletes from baseball, football and men’s and women’s basketball who had previously seen their jerseys retired. By 2006, a Hall of Fame Committee was established — consisting of alumni, campus reps, coaches, administrators, the media, and previous Hall of Famers — and was charged with selecting for induction six athletes each year from the school’s 22 sports teams. As with many such honorific institutions, the standards are amorphously subjective: The only objective requirement is that the athlete must have left UK at least five years previously.
These newer classes of Hall of Famers provide the pool for jersey retirement candidates. As Neely explains, a new subcommittee was established in 2014, consisting of eight members, to specifically select the elite athletes who will have their uniforms memorialized. To qualify, an athlete must have been inducted into the Hall of Fame at least five years prior, and must qualify as “the best of the best.” Subcommittee members can vote for up to ten people in the pool each year, and only those athletes who win at least seven out of the eight votes will witness their uni up in the bright lights. Delk was the first men’s cager to qualify under the new Barnhart protocol.
When the jersey subcommittee meets in 2016, it will, for the first time, be able to consider the UK Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2010. (OK, math wizards — Neely tells me that there’s a one year lag before the five year clock starts ticking.) The 2010 HOFers include golfer Steve Flesch, rifle woman Nancy Napolski Johnson, track star Valerie McGovern Young, and hoopsters Mike Casey, Billy Ray Lickert, and…you guessed it…Tayshaun Prince.
I’ll let others debate the merits of the rest of the 2010’ers, or the value of retiring in 2015 the jerseys of hardcourt (and broadcasting) legends Mike Pratt and Larry Conley, who entered the Hall in earlier classes.
But well beyond that enchanted December day, Tayshaun Prince earned his spot among the arena ceiling’s crossbars. While he never won a cherished NCAA title — neither did most of the men whose jerseys we honor — the kid straight outta Compton was the premiere player in the Tubby Smith Era. As a junior, he was named SEC player of the year, and twice earned consensus second-team all-American status. With 1775 points, he’s 8th on the all-time scoring list: Every one above him, with the exception of the not-yet-eligible Keith Bogans, hangs in the rafters. Prince is, by all accounts, a prince of a man: a quiet leader, a generous supporter of children’s charities, and a prototypical ambassador of the Big Blue Nation. After leaving, his career sparkled beyond anyone’s expectations: winning an Olympic Gold Medal and an NBA Championship, and executing the most spectacular, gravity-defying blocked shot in NBA playoff history.
I can’t wait to stand up and cheer when Tayshaun Prince’s jersey is presented to him at the site of his most spectacular college moment. And if you’re looking for me that day, I’ll be the guy in the hand-me-down, baby blue V-neck cashmere sweater — with the big smile and the watery eyes.
By Zach Woosley on ©March 01st, 2015 @ 11:30am
The Washington Wizards picked up an important win on Saturday night, defeating the Pistons 99-95. John Wall had a big game, leading the Wizards with 22 points and 6 assists. He also hit two key late free throws to secure the win.
Clutch! John. Wall. #WizPistons
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 1, 2015
Rajon Rondo returned for the Mavericks after his one-game suspension for the yelling match with Rick Carlisle. He had a fairly quiet night statistically, but did provide a lovely assist for Monta Ellis’ “play of the night” 360 layup.
Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe started together in the backcourt for the Phoenix Suns, but the Spurs were simply too much for Phoenix. Bledsoe finished with 12 points and 6 assists, while Knight managed just a single point and 2 assist in just under 18 minutes. Archie Goodwin had five points off the bench.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 1, 2015
Toronto lost their fifth straight game to the Knicks. Patrick Patterson played just under 28 minutes, scoring 10 points and pulling down 5 rebounds.
By Miss J.C. Ausmus on ©February 28th, 2015 @ 11:30am
A little aside from all the Arkansas talk today. Nerlens Noel and Terrence Jones both had pretty good games last night.
Nerlens led the Sixers to a 89-81 victory over the Washington Wizards last night with 14 points and 13 rebounds, accented by an insane volleyball spike block.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 28, 2015
T. Jones also taught ‘em bout Kentucky last night (sorry guys, I had to). Terrence tallied 26 points and 12 rebounds in Houston’s 102-98 win over the Nets.
— NBA (@NBA) February 28, 2015
It’s so good to see Terrence healthy again.
We see you guys, keep representing the Cats well.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 27th, 2015 @ 10:30am
While the internet was preoccupied with the dress debate last night, there was a hell of a game going down in Phoenix. The Suns, the BBN’s new favorite pro team, beat the Oklahoma City Thunder by four in overtime, and three Cats put in impressive performances.
For the Suns, Eric Bledsoe had a banner night, coming one assist shy of a triple double with 28 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 blocks, while Brandon Knight had 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. In one of his first games with the Thunder, Enes Kanter chipped in 18 points and 6 rebounds. Since leaving Utah, Enes is averaging 15.8 points per game, compared to his 13.8 points per game for the Jazz.
Bledsoe’s battle with the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook stole the show:
By Drew Franklin on ©February 26th, 2015 @ 4:00pm
As if you need another reason to love Anthony Davis, here’s news that he received the NBA’s Community Assist Award for the month of January.
The release from the NBA gives us an idea of just how much charity work Davis puts in around New Orleans:
Kaiser Permanente and the NBA are honoring Davis for his increased commitment to the New Orleans community and his efforts to improve the health of local youth. Davis initiated the launch of AD’s Flight Academy, which hosts monthly events for various youth groups in the New Orleans area. This week, Davis hosted his February event including a night of laser tag, bowling, arcade games and giveaways for 150 students from the Jefferson Parish Parks and Recreation at Laser Tag and Games. Last month, he treated more than 100 kids from a local YMCA chapter to bowling, refreshments and giveaways, including surprise tickets to the following night’s Pelicans game. In December, Davis joined teammates Ryan Anderson and Jeff Withey to host a shopping spree at Toys “R” Us for 75 local kids from Boys Hope Girls Hope, Raintree Child Services and Kingsley House. The week of Thanksgiving, Davis, joined by his immediate family, hosted and served a holiday dinner to residents at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope.
In addition to donating his time to youth outreach, Davis has led his team in its Player Ticket Program, spending $30,000 to send more than 3,700 underprivileged local children to Pelicans games. His contribution and generosity encouraged several of his teammates to sign up for the program as well.
So it sounds like, when he’s not playing basketball, Davis is always giving back and creating smiles around New Orleans.
“This is just the beginning,” he said.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 24th, 2015 @ 2:00pm
As the Cats keep winning, the debates over which former Kentucky teams could beat them rages on. DeMarcus Cousins told Bill Simmons the 2015 Cats “wouldn’t have a chance” against his 2010 team, while Anthony Davis said the 2012 Cats would “destroy” the 2015 version. Today, Doron Lamb, who is currently playing for the Westchester Knicks in the D-League, got in on the debate, telling Adam Zagoria the 2012 team would beat the 2015 team by double digits:
“My team would win that,” Lamb said confidently. “I think we would beat them probably by 10 or 12.”
After years of following him on Twitter, I’ve learned not to take many things Doron Lamb says seriously. If I did, I’d never sleep and would have an entire dresser dedicated just to socks. But on this, we may agree.
2012 vs. 2015: who ya got?
It’s been a wild week for former Cats in the NBA. Kanter, Prince, and Knight found themselves on new teams. Anthony Davis re-aggravated his shoulder injury and is looking to miss 1-2 weeks. Teams rise and fall in the playoff race. With so much action involving the NBA Cats it’s time to check in on the top 5 performers since the All-Star break:
5. Eric Bledsoe & Brandon Knight
Despite practicing a total of 0 minutes before playing with his new teammates on the Suns, BK appeared to fit right in alongside Eric Bledsoe. The duo combined for 26 points, 13 assists, and 7 rebounds but came up short in a loss to Chicago. Phoenix has now lost 7 of 8 and look to be out of the playoffs thanks to the revamped Thunder. Still, the backcourt of Knight and Bledsoe makes for an exciting future in the desert and will certainly be a staple on this rundown. Phoenix is back in action tonight against James Young and the Celtics.
4. John Wall
Just over a month ago John Wall and the Wizards had sole possession of the Eastern conference two seed. Since then they’ve gone 8-12, 2-8 in their last 10, to slide into a race for the 5th seed with the Bucks. Wall continues to be electric with an average of 14 points and 10 assists since the all-star game but something is just off in Washington. Can the Wiz get things right and move back into the conversation for homecourt?
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
MKG may have absolutely gotten destroyed yesterday on this dunk by Richard Jefferson but it isn’t all going bad for the Kidd. Since the all-star break Michael is averaging 17.5 points and 5 rebounds for the fledgling Hornets. After losing 5 in a row, Charlotte is likely heading to the lottery to get MKG some help. Fingers crossed Willie Cauley-Stein can join another Cat in Charlotte.
2. Enes Kanter
Enes appears to be just what the doctor ordered for OKC as he is the offensive threat at the 5-spot the Thunder have been severely lacking. OKC has won both games since acquiring the big Turk and last night he went off for 20 and 12. Expect Kanter to continue to play a big scoring role for the Thunder until Durant returns in a couple of weeks. Then it will be all about getting ready for the playoffs. Kanter could have a real chance of being the first of Cal’s Cats to win a title.
1. DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins continues to have a stellar year despite the fact his backup point guard is now this guy. In the two games since the trade deadline left DMC stranded in Sactown the big fella has averaged 26 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Will he be able to find a permanent fit in George Karl’s offense? Or will the remainder of this season simply serve to make Cuz’s numbers great for the trade market? It’s a story to watch as the Kings dwell in the cellar of the Western conference.
By Ryan Clark on ©February 22nd, 2015 @ 5:30pm
Anthony Davis is expected to miss up to 2 weeks after re-injuring his shoulder last night, according to ESPN.
Last night, Davis collided with Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, and immediately A.D. began holding his right shoulder, which he originally injured in a fall against Chicago on Feb. 7 (pictured above). That injury ultimately kept him out of the All-Star game, and could greatly reduce the Pelicans chances of earning the last playoff spot in the Western Conference (they are now two games behind Oklahoma City, who just acquired former Utah center Enes Kanter in trade).
The ESPN report seemed to contradict an earlier story by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski that listed Davis as “day-to-day” after re-injuring his shoulder. That report said tests showed no structural damage to the shoulder.
Davis, who is averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game, is a legitimate MVP candidate, analysts say. But the Pelicans will have to make a decision whether Davis can play through the pain, or whether they need to let him rest, which could result in losing more ground to the Thunder.
More updates as we hear them. Get better A.D.!!!!
By Courtney Sealey on ©February 21st, 2015 @ 11:30am
I don’t know whether to cringe or jump up and cheer from this amazing dunk by Cousins. It looks like Crowder actually deserved a blocking foul after chilling in an area where he was hoping to draw a charge. I honestly wouldn’t have called it either after what happened to him, though.
RIP Jae Crowder.
By Drew Franklin on ©February 20th, 2015 @ 11:30am
Julius Randle returned to Lexington last weekend to catch up with fans and take in Kentucky’s home game against South Carolina. While he was in town, Time Warner followed him around with cameras for an all-access look at his visit.
Watch below as Randle hosts two signings and reunites with old teammates on Valentine’s Day:
On Saturday, Tony Delk will have his jersey retired, becoming the 43rd person to receive Kentucky basketball’s highest honor. Those of us over the age of…oh, 28 have been waiting for this moment for awhile; Delk has long been considered the next in line to have his jersey retired, and for good reason. Following in the footsteps of Mashburn, Delk helped move Kentucky basketball into its golden era of the mid to late 90’s. For Kentucky fans growing up at the time, he was our folk hero, all long arms and threes, as iconic as the famous denim jerseys.
If you’re under the age of 28, you know of Delk, but you may not really know him. I hear that. For years, I listened to UK fans older than me wax poetic about Rex Chapman, Kyle Macy, Dan Issel, and all of the great players who have gone through the program during its long and storied history, but I didn’t really have the same appreciation for them as players I grew up watching. That’s life. So, in hopes of giving our younger readers a better understanding of why Saturday’s jersey retirement is so huge, I put together a little guide to why we love Tony.
A celebrated player in a celebrated era
During Delk’s four years (1993-1996), Kentucky had a 119-18 record and went to the NCAA Final Four twice, winning one national championship, two SEC championships, three SEC Eastern Division championships and three SEC Tournament titles.
Delk was named first-team All-American (1996), SEC Player of the Year (1996), first-team All-SEC his last two seasons, third-team All-America as a junior and second-team All-SEC as a sophomore. He was also given the honor of Most Outstanding Player of the 1996 Final Four, one of only six Kentucky basketball players to ever receive the award.
His arms are the stuff of legend
Delk is only 6’1″, but has a 7’2″ wingspan. That is freakish. Legend has it Delk’s arms are so long that when he’s sitting in a chair, he can put his palms on the floor. When standing up straight with his arms at his side, he can touch his knees. No big thing, you say? Try it right now.
Delk’s arms seem even longer when compared to his neck. He doesn’t really have one. It’s like the basketball gods got bored and created a caricature, smushing Tony’s head down to stretch his forearms out even more. It’s not like he’s Skinny Arms Rob Lowe either–at his peak, Tony’s arms looked like most people’s legs if most people were 7′ body builders.
He’s made more three-pointers than any player in Kentucky basketball history
You know what they say about long arms: long stroke. Delk still holds the UK basketball record for most three-pointers made with 283. He’s also second in career steals (201) and fifth in scoring (1,890 points). On a team of superstars, Delk led UK in scoring for three-straight years. Delk made nine threes against TCU on January 20, 1996, a single-game school record that wasn’t broken until Jodie Meeks made ten vs. Tennessee in 2009.
He had an epic 4-point play in the NCAA Championship game
With eleven minutes left, Kentucky led Syracuse 55-46 when Todd Burgan crashed into Delk as he was shooting a three. Delk fell to the ground but the three went in and Delk made his free throw, pushing the lead from nine to thirteen and outside of Syracuse’s reach.
This was one of many plays that earned Delk the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honor. Delk scored 24 points in the Championship game, including seven three-pointers, tying a championship game record.
He was drafted 16th by the Charlotte Hornets
With the 16th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, Tony Delk went to Charlotte, which meant kids across the Bluegrass finally got an excuse to ask for that Hornets Starter jacket–you know the one:
I just wish I’d saved mine. Some hipster in Brooklyn would pay way too much for it now.
He played on eight different NBA teams
Delk’s time in Charlotte didn’t last long. In November 1997, the Hornets traded Delk and Muggsy Bogues to the Golden State Warriors for BJ Armstrong. Over ten years in the league, Delk played for eight teams: the Hornets, the Warriors, the Kings, the Suns, the Celtics, the Mavericks, the Hawks, and the Pistons.
He once scored 53-points in one game
The highlight of Tony’s pro career has to be his 53-point performance for the Phoenix Suns against the Sacramento Kings in 2001. What flipped Delk into Boomshakalaka mode? The Kings traded him in 2000. Payback, baby.
He reunited with Antoine Walker and Walter McCarty in Boston in 2002
The three helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference semifinals. In 2003, Delk and Walker headed to Dallas together:
In 2004, they went to Atlanta:
Delk stayed with the Hawks until 2006, while Walker was traded back to the Celtics in 2005.
He was an assistant coach on Calipari’s staff from 2009-2011
Most of you younger fans should know this. After playing overseas for a few years, Delk returned to Kentucky in 2009 to serve on Calipari’s staff as assistant director of basketball operations, a position he held until 2011, when he accepted an assistant coaching position at New Mexico State.
While an assistant, he got to reunite with Darius Miller
Like any kid growing up in Bluegrass in the 90’s, Miller was a huge Tony Delk fan, and during Miller’s time at Kentucky, this picture of a young Darius and Tony became famous. Darius Miller: he’s just like us!
He showed us he’s still got moves in the 2012 Alumni Game
Hearing Walter McCarty yell “TD” just gets the nostalgia going all over again.
He’s now an analyst for the SEC Network
And he’s getting better every day. Congrats, Tony.
By Drew Franklin on ©February 19th, 2015 @ 3:17pm
Add the Phoenix Suns to your list of favorite basketball teams.
After making several last-minute moves before today’s deadline, Phoenix now has an all-Kentucky backcourt with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight as its starters and Archie Goodwin coming off the bench.
Milwaukee sent Knight to the Suns, while Goran Dragic leaves Phoenix for Miami and Isaiah Thomas joins the Celtics.
With minutes to go before today’s NBA trade deadline, it appears Enes Kanter will be granted his wish to escape Utah as Oklahoma City is reportedly finalizing a deal with the Jazz for the former Wildcat.
Most of the talk throughout the day was the Thunder’s interest in Brooke Lopez, but it appears it will be Kanter who teams up with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the West contender. Kendrick Perkins will go to the Jazz, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Enes is freed.