ROUND 3 BEGINS
Ok it is time for Round 3. Here is how this will work. Each contestant was given the assignment of finding a news story about which to write over the weekend and turn it into a post. This weekend happened to be UK news depleted, making the assignment even more difficult. Then each judge has a one on one battle, with the winner going to the next round. The five losers then will go up to a FAN VOTE to save two into the Final 7. So focus on the losers and get ready to have your voice heard tomorrow.
Over the weekend, Jodie Meeks traipsed across the mountains of Eastern Kentucky armed with nothing but his teddy bear smile, a bagful of sharpie pens, and the proofs for his Bucks rookie card. Kentucky’s #23 has become Milwaukee’s #20, but he hasn’t become so big that a Paintsville car dealership, Pikeville High School, Wal-Mart, and the Fayette Mall aren’t worth a few hours of his time. He can still give back to the folks who have rooted and wept on his behalf. You can hear Vince Vaughn jumping on a table in the background, hooting, “Our little Jodie’s all grows up!”
The money’s coming no matter what. Jodie isn’t coming back. He’s taking his Wildcat Victory lap. And the Big Blue Nation still doesn’t really know what it thinks about it all.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled for the guy. You probably are now, too. Maybe your third cousin’s roommate slept with Jodie’s rabbi’s daughter who told you in April without a doubt he wasn’t coming back no matter what. But the rest of us, we knew Jodie was coming back. We figured he’d declare. That was no surprise. He had nothing to lose as a junior. We slapped on him the back, wished him well, encouraged him: Jodie, put your feet in the water, shake your toes, see how good it feels, and come back to your third coach in 4 years and learn how to dribble, pass, and defend on the ball. We know the draft will be a bit deeper next year, but you’ll be all right. You’ve got a championship to win. Your roommate came back. We’ll see you at Midnight Madness.
(Note to self: when a player’s dad is named Orestes, expect a Greek tragedy.)
So with Jodie giving interviews saying he has no regrets, it’s about time that we, as a fan base, take a second to process our own regrets and make some final peace.
Nation, we watch our boys in blue run in Rupp for a variety of reasons. There’s no greater game, no greater tradition, no greater program. Those things are self-evident. We also watch the Cats because you can walk up to 85% of the population in our entire state and, regardless of class, race, gender, or religion, have a healthy debate about whether two point guards can really play together in a motion offense. But, for most of us, we watch the Kentucky Wildcats play ball because the entire pageant fills a deep psychological need. In short, Kentucky basketball is a high form of psychotherapy, and nobody expects you to stay on the couch.
Let’s consider our anxieties.
First, we love our boy. He was making a terrible mistake. The fact that he had to wait until the very last moment meant he didn’t have a first round guarantee. And Jodie deserved that. He should have come back to the team he deserved all along, a team with a depth chart deep as (Karen Sypher joke edited out here). You don’t leave the most talked-about team on the planet to follow the footsteps of the Marquis Estills and the Randolph Morrises of the world. We knew better!
Second, from the day Tubby Smith left to waste away in Gopherville, Cedar Point has not been able to design a rollercoaster nasty enough to compete with the experience of being a Kentucky basketball fan. And we thought we were getting off the thing just in time to not have to puke our nachos into the floorboards of our cars. Our savior had arrived. John Calipari’s initials were no mere coincidence. Biblical scholars estimate Jesus Christ died on a cross at age 33. Calipari had records of 33 and 4 in 3 of his last 4 seasons at Memphis. I couldn’t make this stuff up! But between the Derrick Rose SAT “scandal” and 54 of our 90 points against Tennessee at Thompson-Boling suddenly disappearing, our deepest fantasies of world peace, a cure for hangovers, and cold fusion seemed a tad ambitious. We had wandered in the desert of mediocrity long enough. If only Billy Gillespie had not struck the NIT with his staff instead of just speaking to it like he was told, maybe the victories would have flown freely.
Beyond that, even in our bliss of recruiting rankings, we still call modern times the “post-probation era.” We weren’t really sure how to make three guys playing two positions happy in both the frontcourt and the backcourt. I’d woken up in cold sweats from nightmares of future press conferences during which Patterson, Cousins, and Wall announced they were leaving for the draft, Bledsoe and Orton were transferring to Florida and Oklahoma State over frustrations with playing time, Brandon Knight had decided to get his Masiello on at Louisville, and Worldwide Wes was named as the real mastermind behind Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring. You don’t need a copy of Freud to tell me that I’m just another citizen of the BBN who’s seen just how high and just how low the team you love can go.
Two months later, the Valium out of our system, we’ve happily accepted our top-5 projections over the pressures of a dooming pre-season #1 ranking. Coach Cal joined Sam’s Club to buy all the chalk he needed to draw up new variants of the dribble drive for two point guards and two centers. Grainy Youtube videos of pick-up games cautiously signal that we haven’t been hoodwinked by scouts playing with our minds. DeMarcus Cousins smiles in pictures. Our last coach was last seen with a bottle of Tequila in a Tucker Max anecdote. Rick Pitino has taken up the cause of health care reform, making sure that everyone has insurance coverage, one crazy blond chick at a time.
And Jodie Meeks, with a fancy contract signed and sealed in a fancy new brief case, is making his farewell rounds, fresh from summer league performances that made it absolutely clear we didn’t know better. At least, probably not. And it’s been a long time since we’ve been so happy to be so wrong.
The fans of the University of Kentucky Mens basketball team are learning more about their head coach every day. Whether it’s his affinity for “Four Guys and a Grill,” his favorite Chinese proverbs, or how much he hates Tom Creans’ son, John Calipari is revealing a little bit more to the commonwealth every day. Their latest question? What ethnicity is Calipari really? Is he African-American, Chinese, Japanese, or even Kryptonian.
“You know, I began to suspect when I first started hearing his name being thrown around,” Sandwich artist Mitch Abernockle recalls, “I thought, Calipari? That doesn’t sound very Appalachian to me. There was no “Ray” in his middle name and he cant show any kin to any Napiers, so I was skeptical.” Whichever it was, one thing was certain, Mitch was excited for the opportunity. “Look, I like white people too, but we gave a white Texan a chance. And all we got for it was a good whuppin. I’m just saying, it’ll be nice to get a fresh look at things.”
Jerry Tipton reported this weekend on Calipari’s welcome at a recent mixer for the Lexington Urban League, where Cal did what Cal does best. Hoping to cause “some healing” after the way Tubby Smith was treated, Calipari lauded not only what Tubby was able to accomplish, but won the audience over with his loving personality. While it is certainly possible that Coach Cal could be loved and non-black, President and CEO P.G. Peeples does claim “That (this) will be the first time a University of Kentucky basketball coach’s picture will be in an African-American home, except for Tubbys.” When asked about how Gillispie treated the African American community in Lexington, Peeples laughed and recalled “I don’t even think we were on the radar screen.” Though to be fair to Billy Clyde, it wasn’t just the African Americans that Billy ‘conveniently’ forgot about, as he managed to ignore the NCAA tournament too.
To get a further understanding of the situation, experts have also begun to look at Calipari’s usage of what they like to call, the ‘twitter machine.’ “His willingness to dive into new technologies, and his constant trips to China, add marks to Japanese and Chinese columns, respectively. But if you look closely here, you can see he uses the term ‘off the chain.’ That would add a mark to the African American column… wait, hang on. Really? Okay, new development, Johnson is telling us that phrase has moved into the ‘white euphemism only’ category, we may have spoken too soon. Frankly, between all that and his love for obscure rappers such as Drake, this can be very confusing. The only thing we are certain of, is that he never made any ‘I support Iran,’ tweets. That rules him out of the hippy college kid category.”
The dark horse in the Calipari Race-race would be the Italians. Sure there are a few hundred tweets about Papa John’s to look at, but what has most scholars intrigued is the not-quite-official statement made regarding this year’s Louisville basketball game. Coach Cal stated that he intends to warn the fans to pay Pitino ‘respect,’ and leave the Karen Sypher bikini photo’s at home (perhaps as much for our collective benefit as Pitino’s.) In the past, Coach Cal has even threatened to leave the game if the fans do something to embarrass the University. So while the plans for a “Score for More — If John Wall throws Edgar Sosa over the scorers’ table, show your ticket stub at Porcini’s and win a free dessert,” promotion have been scrapped, Cal’s belief in respecting family, no matter how estranged we may be, add points to the Italian column.
While the true ethnicity of Coach Calipari may never be known, the important thing to note is that he has found a way to do what he set out to early on. Calipari is universally loved, and is doing his best to unite all corners of the Big Blue nation, while creating new ones across the Pacific. He is nothing if not genuine, and while this article has been very tongue and cheek, one thing stands out far above the rest. At least he’s not from Texas.
Wow…what can you say about this one. First of all Garrett, you did exactly what we asked for. You took a news story (Jodie signing autographs) and found a way to make it into a post. Exactly what we were looking for. There were a couple of good lines in there, and I thought overall it was solid. I wish that you had gone a little bit farther with the creativity, but at the same time, you gave a good overview of how UK fans feel about Jodie right now. So overall I was impressed. Now Will, let me begin by saying, you took quite a risk. Interjecting ethnicity into anything is difficult, but I actually thought you pulled it off well and made it funny. I was on edge reading it, and after the Fake Gimel incident last week, was nervous. But I think overall you were fine and I give you credit for the creativity. You also had a couple of extremely funny lines and there is no doubt that you have the comedy aspect of this blogging thing down.
Nevertheless, I am going with Garrett for one main reason. Will, you didnt follow the rules. I asked for a news item related to this weekend. That was supposed to make you have to do what we do….get news out of nothing. You didnt do that. You essentially created your own news, which is fine on a daily basis, but wasnt the assignment. Nevertheless, it was creative and if the fans like it, I think you are a good candidate to get in via the fan vote. But for now, Garrett moves on.