Hi. I’m new here. My name is Aaron Flener. I am from Glasgow, KY. I know what you’re probably thinking: “Oh, Glasgow is off I-65. Close to Dinosaur World.” You thought wrong. That’s Cave City.
Or maybe that’s not what you were thinking at all. Maybe you were thinking “Was he around Glasgow when Brandon Stockton’s mustache got it’s start?” I’m pleased to tell you I was. I once combined with Brandon Stockton (and his mustache) for 54 points in a high school game. He had 51. I had 3. But who’s counting?
Enough about my relationship with another gentleman’s facial hair. I’m excited to join the team at KSR and tonight I want to tell you a story.
I’ve been attending the SEC Tournament for 20 years. My first one was in Birmingham in 1992. Some of you reading this weren’t born then. I have many great memories from these tournaments:
-UK won 7 of the first 8 I attended.
–UK beat Tennessee 101-40 in 1993.
-This past year, I sat behind Mark Ingram and made him laugh.
I could list more but let’s be honest, you don’t really care about my memories. One story is worth telling, though…
ATLANTA – THE GEORGIA DOME – 2011
My uncle is an expert in the ticket game. It is not uncommon for him to pay for his entire trip to the SEC Tournament buying and selling tickets. In 2011, I paid $15 for a ticket to the UK-Florida final and I sat 50 feet from the floor at mid court. I was so close to the court that I almost got a t-shirt and hat during the post game celebration. Sitting close to the court is awesome for a lot of reasons. You are close to the action, you can hear stuff from the court that you can’t hear from up high, and you will usually find yourself sitting in the company of some notable characters.
This day was no exception. I found myself in the company of a very notable character.
As I was sitting in my seat before the game trying to avoid my cousin’s pizza grease fingers and pizza sauce mouth, I noticed some guys entering the row across the aisle to my right. At first, I didn’t look that closely at the people. I didn’t think anything of it except that I wouldn’t be able to invite people down.
As the game began, I noticed that the gentleman on the end of the row was very into the game, cheering all of Kentucky’s good plays despite not wearing any Kentucky gear. Then I saw his shoes and it all made sense.
It was none other than World Wide Wes.
I had seen maybe one or two pictures of Wes. Had I not seen the shoes, though, I don’t think I would have put it together. If you don’t know anything about Wes, I encourage you to google him. He is one the most well connected people in the sports and entertainment business. Wes knows everyone who is someone in sports and entertainment, and everyone who is someone in sports and entertainment knows Wes.
You remember the Pistons-Pacers brawl? Wes is the one who calmed Ron Artest down and got him off the floor (2:50 mark). Although everyone knows him or knows of him, not many know how he does what he does. And he likes it that way.
When I figured out who he was, I wanted to talk to him. But I didn’t want to bother him. This was going to be tricky. After all, he didn’t come to the game to talk to some dude with sunglasses around his neck who was sitting across the aisle.
I waited until a break in the action to break the ice. I was nervous to talk to him. If it went well I pictured him inviting me to hang out with him and Lebron in Miami sometime. If I blew it I still had to sit 5 feet from him for the rest of the game. After thinking about what I was going to say, I settled on this:
Me: “Hey Wes, do you think Josh can play in the NBA?”
Wes: “He starts for Kentucky doesn’t he? If you start for Kentucky you have a chance to play in the NBA.”
*Okay, that went well. He could have answered yes or no but he elaborated. I’m in. Just don’t force it. A couple seconds later I hear him say “hey” in my direction. I turn. HE WAS TALKING TO ME! He wants to ask me a question. Play it cool, Aaron. Play it cool.*
Wes: Hey, how did you know my name?”
Me: “It’s on your shoes.”
Boom. Wes laughed. His friends laughed. It was the coolest I have ever felt. Even cooler than kindergarten when I successfully hit a car with a rock to impress a girl. After the game, I got a not very good picture with Wes. But you don’t ask World Wide Wes to retake a photo. Here’s what we ended up with.
No one knows much about World Wide Wes. But I know one thing. He was extremely nice to me. I gave him one of my cards and told him to check out the site I was writing for at the time. I’d say he didn’t. Regardless, one of the coolest dudes out there has a business card with my name, email, and phone number on it. Wes, if you ever want someone to write your story, give me a call. You have my number.