It’s a testament to our program and who we are as fans that on the biggest day in the recent history of our program the first stories posted by local writers this morning were about a former equipment manager. It’s the little details that separate us from all other fanbases in the nation. For all the storylines about Coach Cal and the fantastic freshmen, this game is really for the fans. We are the blue lifeblood flowing through the veins of the most prestigious and decorated program in the history of college basketball.
Within the state lines of this great Commonwealth is contained a fervent energy constantly teeming, constantly ready to rise up and mobilize. From Paducah to Pikeville you’ll encounter people all across the spectrum who eat, drink and breathe Kentucky basketball. Everyone has a favorite player, a favorite moment that defines their fandom. In 2005, we experienced simultaneously the highest of highs when Patrick Sparks hit that shot at the buzzer against Michigan State and the lowest of lows when we eventually lost in overtime. Consider that. As tears fell down your face at the sound of the final horn, someone you’ve never met in a county you’ve never been to was experiencing the exact same heartbreak.
We are connected by a unique bond that perfectly melds passion for the team and passion for the place we all call our home. They are one in the same because Kentucky basketball is what we were raised on. Even outside of the Bluegrass State, nothing lifts my spirits more than seeing a stranger proudly sporting the UK logo because at that point they are no longer a stranger. They are my brother or my sister. They are someone with whom I can relate with at my highest points and my lowest points.
Before this game tips off in a couple hours, I want you to take some time to look at yourself in the mirror. I want you to know why this game is important and who those guys are playing for. Players, coaches and seasons come and go but there’s one constant in this program and that’s you, the ever faithful fan. So band together with your brothers and sisters today and raise your voices high. This won’t just be a victory for the school we were raised loving, it’ll be a victory for the place we’ve always called home.