Today is the birthday of former sprinter, Tommie Smith, best known to most Americans as the athlete at the top of the medal podium in 1968 in Mexico City when the famous fist was raised during the National Anthem. Smith, and his lesser known teammate John Carlos (gotta wonder what the third guy was thinking, dont you?), took the stand during the National Anthem and lowered their head and raised the “Black Power” fist to highlight the treatment of African Americans in the United States. They also, it is often forgotten, wore no shoes in order to protest black poverty and beads to protest lynching. They were part of a group of African American athletes who used the games as a platform, in part to protest the USOC’s leadership under Avery Brundage, a known white supremacist and one of the key figures in bringing the Olympic Games to Hitler in Berlin. The protests came at the heady time of the Summer of 68, a year that saw the Prague Spring, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and the following riots, the rise of the Black Panthers, the largest worker protest in the history of Europe, the killings of hundreds of Mexico City students and other acts of worldwide protest. The action was seen world-wide and the athletes were immediately condemened throughout the country and banished from the Olympic Village for their political statement. Now, many celebrate the acts of Smith and Carlos as principled statements of political views in the face of authority and societal bigotry. But at the time they were widely vilified and their lives altered dramatically. In a day and time when modern athletes often believe that “standing up for principle” means protesting their ability to wear t-shirts and baggy jeans to the arena, it is hard to imagine the courage needed to make such a stand. This was resistance based on belief in its purest form and the image is still iconic some forty years after it first occurred.
Now onto the news……
(1) The big news of the day, at least around these parts, was the visit we received today from Coach Billy Clyde on The Sports Mob. Billy Clyde went into a number of topics, ranging from his view on his current players (likes them, but doesnt know them), to his view on Kentucky fans (likes them, but hasnt met them) to his view on Lexington (likes it, but hasnt been here much). Coach touched on a number of subjects, but didnt go into depth on any of them, in part likely because he was distracted with a couple of other things. But it was a big moment for us to have him on the show and we were very happy to finally see it come to fruition. One year ago, Rob and I were doing a podcast at my computer desk in my apartment, passing one headset back and forth and trying not to knock over my empty Mountain Dew bottles. At that time if you had told us we would have Billy Clyde on the show, I would have only believed it could have been my next door neighbor who threw sticks at the children in the neighborhood for laughs. Times have changed. The interview is below (as is some of the show)….
(2) The Billy Donovan saga continues, but it isnt the most intriguing coaching saga from my end. I am much more interested with what UK is going to do about its third assistant’s job. The recent talk has been about Josh Pastner, an assistant from Arizona that most have given credit for landing Brandon Jennings to the Wildcats. Pastner is a rising star in the coaching ranks and is considered one of the best young recruiters in America. He has a very close relationship with Lute Olsen, and the fact that Billy Clyde has been even able to attract his interest shows the power of Gillispie the salesmen and the UK program. Pastner’s father is a legend on the AAU circuit in Houston (can someone say Willie Warren?) and is the connection to the Billy Clyde regime. A Pastner get would be HUGE at this point, and could pay dividends even greater than the Legion and Patterson pickups.
UPDATE The Arizona Rivals.com site is reporting that Pastner will stay at Arizona…..so much for that.
(3) Billy Donovan is a child. I mean that with all due respect, but this saga is ridiculous….when you have a career and are an adult, you will always have second thoughts. But do not make a decision, sign a contract and then one day later go back on it…..especially when there are two major entities waiting on your decision. In other news, Bill France Jr passed away today, a legend in his sport. After taking the reigns of NASCAR over from his father, he did what few famous sons do….he lived up to the legacy. NASCAR is an amazing sport in that it has been run by a family for most of its existence….and run very well. Losing France is a sad day for NASCAR and he will be missed.
(4) Point guard recruit and Tyler Zeller AAU teammate, DeAndre Liggins has been reported as having narrowed his list to Memphis, Illinois and Kansas. This is tough news for Kentucky, as the Cats have been interested in Liggins for sometime. I spoke with DeAndre at the TOC in Raleigh and he told me at the time that Kentucky was firmly in the mix. Liggins is an important recruit and Cats’ fans should hope the reports are wrong….in part for Liggins, but also for his potential impact on Zeller.
(5) Watch “Creature Comforts” on CBS next Monday night, or whenever it is on again. It is an old BBC show, and its American reincarnation is VERY funny and clever. Random interviews with ordinary citizens are then voiced over by claymation animal figures in a hilarious way that is difficult to describe. Catch it….and if you can see the old BBC show, do that too. It is worth your time.
More to come throughout the day. The Woo graduation party is Friday from Longhead Bar and Grill on Dixie Highway. You want to be there. And take a look at a couple of our advertisers above….the Big Blue Nation t shirts and the Chrome UK car ornaments both are excellent UK purchases (and they help the site too) 😉