Perhaps the most exciting thing to return from a long hiatus this fall – aside from me – comes to us on Sunday night. The final installment of Breaking Bad begins Sunday, and the final eight episodes are all but guaranteed to be amazing. Breaking Bad was the first real television drama that I found myself unable to stop watching, and the fact that the writers are going to be able to wrap the show up on their own terms – opposed to getting cancelled or being forced to milk the story for extra seasons – is really quite lucky in this day and age.
In honor of the return of one of the best written television dramas ever, I’m taking a not-completely-original idea and applying it to college athletics. With a focus on Kentucky, because do you really want to live in a world without Classic Coke?
I didn’t think so.
So, stealing a bit from Bill Simmons, here’s “Television Quotes as Awards” – Breaking Bad edition.
Warning – there’s gonna be spoilers.
Catch up if you haven’t yet, the madness starts Sunday.
1.) “But, let’s start with some tough love, alright? Ready for this? Here goes. You two suck, at peddling meth. Period.”
Best to start in the beginning. This one goes the dynamic duo, Billy Gillispie and Joker Phillips. We all know the drill with these two by now – Billy needs help, and the spotlight at UK only made that more noticeable. Joker Phillips is a great guy – no I mean it, he’s a GREAT guy – we appreciate all he did for our school, but it just wasn’t working out. But hey. If it takes hitting the bottom of a barrel of methylamine to get us to where we are now, I’m okay with it. Which brings us to the next quote.
2.) “Moral of the story is – I chose a half measure, when I shoulda gone all the way.”
One of the most iconic lines of the show – Mike the muscle is telling Walt that there’s no success in keeping one foot on both sides of the line. If you want to get what you want, you have to go all in.
So this one is for Mitch. It’s been alluded to that Mitch wasn’t too keen on hiring John Calipari the first go around, directly after Tubby. He went with what seemed like the safer option at the time in hiring a small town, simple man in Billy Gillispie. And we know how that turned out. Not to make the same mistake again, Mitch went full measure and hired Calipari the second go around.
3.) “So be on notice: We got new players in town. Now we don’t know who they are or where they came from, but they possess an extremely high skill set. Me personally, I think Albuquerque might just have a new kingpin.”
To the entire rest of the basketball watching world, when Calipari joined forces with Kentucky. The seismic shift in the basketball landscape was palpable, the minute Calipari took the helm. Gregg Doyel famously (at least, famously to UK fans) wrote that Kentucky was about to start winning like the Boston Celtics – and he wasn’t wrong. Calipari immediately started attracting class after class of the best talent college basketball had seen since the Fab Five (seriously, every other year Kentucky’s recruiting class gets compared to them), and the stage hasn’t been the same since.
4.) “BLEEP you. And your eyebrows!”
5.) “This is not a rock. This is a mineral.”
One of the more comedic call backs in Breaking Bad revolves around a rehabbing Hank and his new obsession with collecting minerals. His wife always calls them rocks, and he corrects her in an overly aggressive manner. Hey. Breaking Bad is known for the dramatic scenes, we take jokes where we can get them.
But the idea here is – sometimes things aren’t as you have always assumed they are. So this one goes to Mark Stoops, for seeing a valuable mineral in what so many assumed were just rocks. A year ago Kentucky fans were talking themselves in to maybe winning 4 games, and hoping that one day it could be different. And accepting that it probably wouldn’t, and hey, Nerlens Noel has cool looking hair, and last years championship and BASKETBALL!
But this summer, thanks to Stoops, football has gotten just as much coverage as basketball and the future looks bright.
6.) “It’s easy money. ‘Til we catch ya.”
I was tempted to give this to Johnny Manziel, or Tyrell Pryor, or Cam Newton, or AJ Green, or any other player that has had a run in with the NCAA – whether found guilty or not – that has had their reputation tarnished because of it. But I’m going to flip the script. Instead, I’m giving this to Mark Emmert and the NCAA. Because let’s be real, they have been making EASY money off college athletics for years. And they’ve poked their noses in to the wrong corners enough times, and made the wrong schools and fan bases upset enough times, that the national narrative has flipped from shaming college athletes for breaking rules, to shaming the NCAA for trying to control these guys in the first place.
With Jay Bilas jumping on board, the O’Bannon lawsuit, and Calipari joining the NABC board of directors – the gig is up for the NCAA. It was easy money, but they’re about to get caught.
7.) “If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once convinced a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked, because I believed it.”
Okay, we’re steering a little away from Kentucky here, because when I was researching these quotes I totally forgot about this one. And this one goes to our man Manti Te’o, because I’m not mature enough to let his Catfishing days go away without a fight.
But turnabout is fair play – he had most of us convinced he could play football, too, and looking back that seems pretty silly.
8.) “Jesse, you asked me if I was in the meth business, or the money business. Neither. I’m in the empire business.”
You can probably guess who this goes to. Congratulations to John Calipari for taking home the quote that, for me at least, sums up Walter White in one line.
That being said, the comparisons between Calipari and Walter White are slim – thank goodness. But how often have we heard Cal say he’s not in this thing for the National Championships or the wins, or the money? Time and time again, we have heard him tell players “leave for the NBA if you want to help your family, stay if you want to help mine.” National Championships, basketball dominance, awesome experiences for fans are all great – but they are byproducts, according to Cal, of what he is really going for. He wants to win, but he wants to help players reach their dreams, and create a Big Blue Familia along the way.
Calipari isn’t in the basketball business or the championship business. He’s in La Familia business.
Well, that and the frozen yogurt business.
9.) “What did you expect me to do? Just roll over? And allow you to murder us?”
When faced with a choice of giving up and fading away, or fighting and scheming his way out, Walter White chose the latter. And to his credit, so did Rick Pitino. Rick was all but ready to retire a few years ago, and when Calipari came in and took over the state, it looked like it might be his time to pay the check. But instead of letting the challenge of Cal force him in to early (well, not THAT early) retirement, Pitino dusted himself off and found his old gear to shift back in to. It’s not always fun to say anything positive about Louisville, but Rick done good the past two years. And his doing well has made the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry the prominent rivalry heading in to next year, so I can live with it.
Especially when Kentucky beats them twice next year.
10.) “What is this?”
“This is all they had.”
“You go to another store. If this is all they had, you’re in the wrong place.”
“Put it on.”
We’ve talked at length about what Nike does with Kentucky basketball and football uniforms, some people love them, some people hate them. But we can all agree they beat the crap out of what Adidas draws up for their schools. So this one goes to Louisville and all the other Adidas schools, who will likely talk themselves in to wearing some version of The Green Man headed in to next years tournament.
11.) “Hey, man, I’m slingin’ mad volume and fat stackin’ benjis, you know what I’m sayin’? I can’t be all about, like, spelling and ****”
To Marshall Henderson, because I assume he talks like that, and because he’s the only guy who could get us all talking about how funny the idea of #whitegirlwednesday was… until we figured out what it really meant. And so did the cops.
12.) “This is my own private domicile, and I will not be harassed… *****!”
To the Kentucky home game win streak. One of the unique things about Kentucky fans is how much attention we pay year round. Go in to the second half up 40-25, with every bucket coming off an easy lay-up… and you know what’s on your average Kentucky fans mind? Not who the next opponent is, not how much longer they have on the meter, or if they can get to the ice cream guy and back before the start of the next half (let’s be honest, one pre-game ice cream is probably enough,) but hoping we make a three to extend the streak of consecutive games with made threes. It’s that attention to detail that makes Kentucky fans so much fun to watch games with.
So when Calipari came in and won 54 games in a row at home, it was kind of a big deal.
To The Harrison Twins.
14.) “Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.”
To the biggest doofus in College Basketball, Tom Crean and his Indiana Hoosiers. On the one hand, you have to give Crean credit for inserting Indiana back in to the national conversation. On the other, you have to mock him relentlessly for pretty much everything he does. He is like Bruce Pearl, only if Pearl wasn’t so affable. No shame in Crean’s game.
But more specifically, speaking to this quote… when you celebrate a regular season buzzer beater for two years, when you yell at another teams assistant coach on national television, when you cut down the nets after losing a game, when you have two top five draft picks and the preseason number one team and lose in the sweet sixteen – that’s Indiana basketball.
So Tommy. Listen to what I’m about to say.
Just because you beat Kentucky? Don’t make you Kentucky.
15.) “Nothing stops this train.”
To the Big Blue Nation. Because when you’ve got NBA teams coming in to play pre-season games at your arena; when you’ve got as many NBA draft picks in the past four years than Indiana has had tournament wins in the past 19 (random but true stat); when you’ve got an outstanding women’s basketball program, and an exciting football program being built; when you’ve got the most passionate fan base in college sports – let’s be honest…
Nothing stops this train.
“I eat a lot of frozen stuff. It’s usually pretty bad. And the pictures are always so awesome, you know, it’s like, hell yeah I’m stoked for this lasagna, and then you nuke it and the cheese gets all scabby on top, and it’s like, it’s like you’re eating a scab.”
To the personal chefs in Wildcat lodge. Better yet, to all the food services at Kentucky. I miss Blazer. Anybody have some extra meal swipes?
“Clearly his taste in women is the same as his taste in lawyers : only the very best… with just a right amount of dirty.”
To Ricky Three Stacks, because maybe I was too nice to him up there.
“Now. Say my name.”
““You’re ********* right.”
To one Robert Montgomery Knight. Who else?
Follow me so we can talk about Breaking Bad and/or sports @WillLentz.