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The Final Days in Lexington for the Champs

(Michael Kidd-Gilchrist bidding farewell to the fans)

 

The semester is drawing to a close for the student population at the University of Kentucky. Most students are a few papers and finals away from their summer vacation. Between the closing of the school year and the impending NBA Draft, the final days in Lexington are swiftly approaching for the departing seniors and early draft entrants from this year’s Kentucky men’s basketball team. Darius Miller, Eloy Vargas, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Anthony Davis could have all spent their final days and weeks in Lexington a number of ways. In between finishing up classes, studying for finals and finding time to spend in the gym to stay in shape before the pre-draft workouts (for some), all seven of those guys could have easily made any number of excuses not to literally cover hundreds of miles across the state of Kentucky to reach out to fans. Instead, they have done just that. 

 

We predicted that this team would be special from the moment the roster was finalized. We watched this team do special things on the court all season long. We were validated on just how special this team was when they brought home the national championship. This team has been compared by anyone with two eyes, a keyboard and a Twitter account to the  most recent “special” 1996 team. Depending on your age, preference for Derek Anderson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or gut feeling on denim– you can almost divide the fan base on which team they feel was better. None of that really matters though. This 2011-2012 team has separated itself and in my opinion, defined itself, by what it has done from the moment the banner was lifted in Rupp Arena. 

 

John Calipari started things when he took off in a bus with the national championship trophy in hand, and brought the celebration to as many cities, counties and Walmarts as he possibly could. Calipari found a way to let almost everyone in the state of Kentucky have the opportunity to feel a part of the moment. He didn’t have to do that. But he did. And then his players followed his lead.

 

The list of destinations on the autograph tours of each of the Kentucky players is almost overwhelming and impossible to keep up with. They have covered just as much, if not more ground than Calipari. Many of the players have been going nonstop for multiple weeks now as well. Stories have trickled out about players showing up late to an autograph session in one place because they stayed late to make sure everyone who showed up at the previous place got a chance to meet them. Some of the players have thrown out pitches at various baseball games, whether it be UK or the Lexington Legends. Some have been frequenting the UK Children’s Hospital to spend time with the kids and their families. Terrence Jones– in Calipari’s terms, is “the needle” of this whole thing because he is even performing “Teach Me Bout Kentucky” tonight in Louisville to benefit a charity.

 

Make no mistake, players in the past who have played for Kentucky have done similar things. Autograph tours are nothing new for the departing players. I can’t remember a collective group of players though who have covered as much ground, put in as much time, reached as many fans, etc. as this group of players. Maybe it’s just the rise of the internet era, so we have quicker access to hearing about the players doing these kinds of things. I tend to believe though that this group of players has gone above and beyond to allow Kentucky fans to feel something special. The players seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves along the way too, tweeting pictures of their fans and taking the time to go beyond simply signing autographs in many cases. I have heard especially positive stories of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist being extremely personable and having fun with the younger fans.

(MKG helped serve ice cream at Cold Stone)

 

For anyone who thinks that some of these players who only spend one year at Kentucky aren’t giving enough back to the University and the fans in their short time, just take a look at time and effort they are expending right now in their final days in Lexington. They could be doing absolutely anything right now. Anything at all. And they are choosing to be with the fans. 

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

41 Comments for The Final Days in Lexington for the Champs



  1. Mmmmmmhmm
    9:44 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    While I appreciate their efforts by actually going to the places to sign autographs, I would drive anywhere in Kentucky to sign autographs if I was getting $55 a pop! (Anthony Davis recently charged that in Ashland)



  2. gr8ness
    9:45 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    let me be the FIRST to say Cal gets it.



  3. Bob
    9:45 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I love this team, by far my favorite UK team ever. I also think it’s great that they are taking the time to meet fans around the state. But let’s not forget that these guys are making a lot of money from these meet and greets. For an Anthony Davis autograph it was $55, you can’t tell me the motivation behind these signings wasn’t money.



  4. Bereal
    9:47 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    They get paid to do those tours..don’t kid yourself, it’s all about the chedda.



  5. Alex
    9:49 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    As a student, the fact that the team is going on a “world tour” during finals week really annoys me. I know they are forced to be here by the one-and-done rule, but I still believe they should honor their commitment to the university and finish out the semester like the rest of us.



  6. Mmmmmmhmm
    9:51 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I remember when Tayshaun Prince graduated getting his autgraph in Ashland for nothing and he was there easily for 2 hours. It just kinda makes me wonder if they really love BBN because guys in the past did it for nothing. They are gonna get millions of dollars soon enough anyway, why not give back to the fans? Then again, Tayshaun didn’t win a championship either.



  7. You Guys Are Silly
    9:54 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    You guys do realize that they are not all pocketing ALL of this money, right? Depending on what the event is, some of it goes to charity. You can be extremely cynical about it if you want though.



  8. BlueVirus
    9:54 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    By my estimation, Unibrow has raked in over $600,000 over the past few weeks. By golly, I would be giving back 24-7 for that kinda dough.



  9. GrumpyOldDude
    9:58 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    AD was $80 per head in NKY……..is there no talk of any barnstorming tours? That would be disappointing.



  10. bradley
    10:02 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Some of u people make me puke.Nobody has to pay a damn dime if they don’t want to. If they signed for free there would be a fn line to Florida. They will be millionaires in a few months and can easily get an advance from their agents right now. Probably have already. They don’t need the money and most of all they DID NOT have to do it. I didn’t go pay 55 for an autograph because I have better things to spend it on. That being said I’m not going to whine and moan about it. Kudos to all those guys.



  11. Deepblue
    10:05 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    What an excellent post Ally. Thank you for that.



  12. bradley
    10:06 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Btw, GREAT job on this article Ally. 100% spot on and very well written.



  13. UK Homer
    10:07 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Who cares if they do it for the money? We want to give them the best career prospects possible. Let more just like them come too. We get to watch winning basketball and increased focus on our school and state. The less we force our agenda (Ky/UK pride over $) on them, the happier they are. The happier they are, the more likely they are to buy into our agenda. Cal is building a legacy that will hopefully last long after he leaves: The Kentucky Effect.



  14. Fannessuk
    10:09 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Lest we not forget (and I know this for a fact) Teague and Lamb got paid $70,000/piece +expenses for their tour across the state…I have HEARD that Davis got 500k and MKG got 250k for their tours…so let’s not say they would rather be taking finals and doing pre-draft workouts…I love these guys as much as everybody else, but they didn’t do it for free, that’s for sure



  15. WKU Hilltopper
    10:11 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I’ve been thinking, we should have known that this team was going to win the championship after they beat a team by 80 in their first time ever playing together against another team. Don’t care who it is, that’s impressive.
    Oh, and the people complaining about how much money they’re charging for autographs; don’t go! No one is making you pay it. If you don’t think it’s right then don’t do it. You have to remember these kids are paying for gas, hotels, and giving some of it to charity. So what they’re making a little money off this? I would too. If I knew people would $50 for my autograph I’d charge it too.



  16. Fannessuk
    10:13 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    15) Their expenses were paid for and they had to do two charitable events during the two month time period.



  17. cccatfan
    10:18 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    If they charge 55 bucks for an autograph, 1/2 of that goes to the store or business they are at, which leaves 27.50, then you have to take off another 1/2 for the staff that goes with them leaving the player with 13.75 per autograph. Not near the cash cow some of you make it out to be.



  18. Fannessuk
    10:21 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Trust me when I say that I know Lamb and Teague got 70k plus expenses…please just trust me…I have pictures to prove it. More power to them though!!! That’s awesome



  19. WKU Hilltopper
    10:25 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Like I said, if people are willing to pay it then why not take it? It’s business. If you were offered 70 grand wouldn’t you take it?



  20. FlySoup
    10:36 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    why are these students not in lexington studying for finals? I don’t understand how they can just drop all of their school work and miss class for weeks to drive around KY to sign autographs



  21. C'MON MAN
    10:37 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I love each and every one of these players, consider myself a HUGE Kentucky fan since birth and even I can admit these players are doing these autographs for the money. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that) but this is their first opportunity to get paid and are taking advantage of it.



  22. Jason
    10:48 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    lol they make a ton of money of this stuff. heard Davis was buying a car with some of the money he’s gotten from the signings. They all do this, even the football players.



  23. Fu
    10:58 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    #5 u need to stop acting like a little bit ch n shut the fu(k up

    Noone cares about your pansy asz opinion so do us a favor and slam your dong in a car door



  24. UK Homer
    11:00 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    20 – you make a good point, but professors can do what they want especially if no one complains. I don’t know what our players are taking, but it isn’t uncommon for faculty to let kids skip if there’s a valid reason. Internships and jobs were valid reasons when I was at UK, especially if it came about after the semester was in full swing. The only stipulation was that you keep in touch during the semester and finish your assignments…and that was for non-athletes. Also, this is the 21st century – if you’re anchoring yourself to a routine class schedule then you’ll miss out on opportunities. Online colleges are on the rise for a reason – life is too short for conventional education.



  25. 2KATS
    11:01 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    you really think this money will make a difference in their life? because its nothing compared to what theyll be making before long, so its not for the money. get over yourselves



  26. Cat Man
    11:06 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    22… Davis is already driving a White Mercedes.. Agents can front money though so that doesn’t mean he used the autograph money on it… Also, Davis will sign for free anyone that asks him outside of the Wildcat Lodge…. It would be different if they were turning people away…. Davis and MKG haven’t…… Now I have seen Teague and Lamb avoid signing outside the Lodge.



  27. MarkEmmertSecondComing
    11:07 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I have it on good faith from Jerry Tip– I mean, a confidential source– that all this has to be illegal, somehow, some way.

    Now, some people claim that ever since Terrence Jones jilted the University of Washington when I was doing my gig as President there, that I’m conducting a personal jihad against the Criminal– I mean Coach Cal– that I can’t be objective.

    There’s nothing farther from the truth.

    In the interest of the Student Athlete, I will continue my negotiations with the NBA to lobby for my replacing Commissioner David Stern, who’s confided in me that he’s thinking or retiring. I mean, we have to protect the Student Athlete.

    Otherwise, I’m irrelevant.



  28. dave ball
    11:17 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    who cares if they get paid for signing autographs…this team will be beloved for a very long time…and for very good reasons beyond just winning



  29. Duke sucks
    11:24 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    People have been saling stuff on eBay all year that the players didn’t profit on. Posters and autographs. So it’s only fair that they profit when they can, As far as some of the players dodging people outside the lodge. You really can’t blame them I’m sure these kids get bombarded everyday.Just going by rumor they have been very good to the fans for the most part.



  30. Sheriff Buford T. Justice
    1:24 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    No kidding 29. I bet half of the people causing a fuss on here were the ones selling their FREE Anthony Davis posters on ebay for $100. Who cares if they charge or don’t. If you don’t want like it, don’t show up. Its a simple concept.



  31. ANCHORMAN
    2:17 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    LOUD NOISES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  32. crying in my profit
    3:15 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Yes siree, the gall of them asking for money for their autograph. Yeah they stop by the childrens hospital to see the kids and familys and don’t charge,{just wondering if I can get some of the kids in the hospital to get some stuff autographed for me}, But the bottom line is they are killing my profit margin on all the stuff I’m selling on e-bay and some of the other auction sites I work with. I’ll be lucky to clear $10 or 15K on the stuff I’m getting signed. Those greedy players. By the way I did do pretty good at ticket scalping this year, I was able to buy the mistress the red corvette she wanted and still had money left to send my wife to Italy for a month.



  33. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    3:51 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Everyone complaining about prices for autographs….you wasn’t with them shootin’ in the gym



  34. doc18uk
    6:22 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Love this team no doubt, but anyone who watched the 96 team knows there is not much comparison. I don’t think the fanbase is split on that.



  35. HoodWinked
    9:33 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    The team is selling their autographs because they know next year, NBA fans wont pay for some bench warmers signature.



  36. bluefan
    9:52 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Preach it, Ally!
    Have you guys seen the lines for those autographs? People WANT to pay for them. If they did it for free, there would be riots all over the state. Whatever. Welcome to 2012.



  37. pcefrog5
    10:00 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    When was AD in Ashland??????



  38. Laughter Ensues
    10:13 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    35) If you knew anything about the NBA you wouldn’t have said that. Kentucky players have a huge impact in the NBA year to year. Look at chest-bumpin’ Rondo, Tayshaun Prince has a ring with Detroit, Jodie Meeks is lighting it up this year, Brandon Knight is having a beastly season, John Wall just needs a supporting cast, Boogie should be on the Olympic team and is, in my opinion, most improved college to NBA player, please tell me you saw Eric Bledsoe’s backwards between-the-leg pass to Blake Griffin for a dunk that shook the rafters, Orton and Liggins both have been on the floor for Orlando, Patterson is playing a role in Houston and the Knicks LOVE Harrellson. Unless Eloy gets drafted lmao then I’ll agree with you but until then, don’t comment about Kentucky players being bench warmers like you were in high school.



  39. Calvin & Hobbes
    11:26 am May 2, 2012 Permalink

    They made $175,000.00 … a piece. I heard AD made upwards of 4, yes these kids did a nice thing “touring KY” But don’t think they walked away with just memories in their pocket



  40. titanfan712
    2:29 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    And how many of you will sell your autographed memoribilia on Ebay? It’s okay if you profit from them right?? Hypocrites…smh



  41. Winkler
    3:10 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Good stuff homer. The NBA can be summed up in a single word, Superstar. Tayshaun Prince wasnt Wallace or Billups, i know this because you have to use his full name. The fan loves Griffin not the guy passing to him, im not saying theyre not endeared but theyre not worshipped like at UK. Maybe someday after Pierce and Garnett retire and Rajon Rondo keeps it going he ll be right there too.