We couldn’t end the year without another “Best of” list, could we? Here are some more ridiculous moments from 2012, which may go down as the best year ever:
Best Win: April 2nd over Kansas, National Championship game
Duh. While the game to win the National Championship may not have been as stressful as the one against Louisville two days earlier or as satisfying as the redemption matchup against Indiana the week before, it definitely had the most at stake. Behind an unlikely hero in Doron Lamb, the Cats beat the Jayhawks 67-59 to earn the school’s eighth National Championship. Just writing that again gives me chills. Fourteen years of waiting was totally worth it.
I can’t go any further without this:
Okay, watch that a few more times and then dry your tears. We must go on.
Best Player: Anthony Davis
Freshman of the Year. Defensive Player of the Year. NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. First-Team All-American. NCAA Champion. National Player of the Year (AP, Naismith, Robertson, Rupp, TSN, Wooden). Olympic Gold Medalist.
Could it be anyone else?
Favorite Player: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Anthony may have been the most talented player for the Cats in 2012, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will go down as my favorite. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player with as big a heart as MKG, who showed us time and time again that he is simply incapable of giving up. With every dunk, rebound, and heart-stopping smile, Michael won his ways into the hearts of the Big Blue Nation. If possible, he was an even better teammate than player, taking it upon himself to start “The Breakfast Club” weight room sessions that were a critical part of the team’s bond. MKG’s salute to Terrence Jones will go down as one of my favorite memories from the title run, an iconic tribute to his toughness and drive. Over the years, generations of Kentucky players may find themselves asking “WWMKGD”?
Best Scandal: Occupy Memorial
I don’t like Vanderbilt. I don’t like Vanderbilt’s fans. And I especially don’t like being forced to sit in the upper deck. When ESPN GameDay announced they would be in town for the Kentucky/Vanderbilt game, there was more reaction from the Kentucky fans living in Nashville than Vandy fans themselves. Which is exactly why we decided to go show our support. The UK Alumni group in Nashville put together “Occupy Memorial,” an organized gathering of UK fans during the GameDay taping the morning of the game. At 7 a.m. that morning, fans met at the McDonalds across the street from Memorial
Opera House Gymnasium and marched to the arena, where we were promptly directed to the upper level. If that wasn’t enough, Digger Phelps himself took the mic before the taping began to let Kentucky fans know how rude they were being. Listen to me, Digger, listen to me! You are a douche!
Best hairstyle: Flat Top
Nerlens Noel has garnered almost as many headlines for his hair as his performance on the court. The big man with the big hair became a Cat in a big fashion, revealing his college choice by shaving it into the back of his fade and swiveling his chair around on national television. From there, the flat top became a Big Blue Nation phenomenon, with kids across the state trying to shape their hair into Nerlens’ signature ‘do (and mostly failing).
Best Dunk: Anthony Davis auto-lob against Louisville in the Final Four
This was tough, but I had to go with Davis’ one-handed auto-lob against the Cards in the Final Four. This may have been the most difficult category to narrow down. We did A LOT of dunking in 2012, but there’s something so epic about Davis’ face as he threw down the lob from MKG. Thank you, CBS backboard cam!
It was hard to pick just one, so here are some “Honorable Mentions”:
Darius Miller vs. Ole Miss (Darius’ monster dunk against St. John’s happened in December 2011)
Transy’s Brandon Rash over Willie Cauley-Stein
Archie Goodwin vs. Portland (MKG’s dunk against Portland was in 2011)
Best Drunk: Helmet Guy
“Eric, where you from?”
“I love Darius Miller. I tell you what, that’s the x-factor. Darius is…he’s the key to the entire championship. I tell you what. Back him down. All you gotta do…if we’re in trouble, give it to him at half court, back him down the entire way.”
“Do they lose another game this year?”
“Ummm, Messeebbe State be tough.
“Messeebbe State be tough, but we’ll win by 18 points.”
Best TV Show: “All-Access: Kentucky”
It only lasted three episodes, but “All-Access: Kentucky” would win an Emmy if it was up to the state of Kentucky. The series demonstrated just how far the program has come under Calipari’s reign; everything about the high-end production screamed “elite,” from the glitzy intro to the shot of Cal and Matthew Mitchell watching game tape on a private plane. Cats fans (and recruits across the nation) got an inside look at the players, process, and even Cal himself, right down to the Tupperware of salad that he forgot to take on the plane. Along with the Final Four games, the All-Access episodes are on a “Keep until I delete” status on my TiVo. (I’ll never delete.)
Best condiments: Ketchup and mustard
At the hands of Joe B. Hall, ketchup and mustard (aka Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein) enjoyed their biggest heyday since Uncle Bob’s cookout back in July. Coach Hall used the condiments to show Coach Cal how to use Nerlens and Willie as the Twin Towers this season, something we saw more of against Louisville.
Best laugh: Johnny Gold Chains
This will never get old.
Best trend: Three goggles
Yes, the Cats didn’t start the three goggles trend. But, they became the masters of it. The 2011-2012 season was full of three goggles, from Doron Lamb to Kyle Wiltjer to Speaker of the House John Boehner and every single UK fan in between. “Throggles” may not be the current team’s thing, but if you didn’t throw a three goggle up in a picture in 2012, then you must not really be a Kentucky fan (or you hate having your picture taken. One of the two.).
Best Tweet: Tom Crean
Back in August, Tom Crean made a Twitter rookie mistake when he accidentally tweeted something he meant to send as a direct message. It was quickly deleted, but that’s why we love screen shots a lot. A whole lot.
Biggest flirt: Archie Goodwin
Best wink ever.
2013: you better bring it.