So here is the deal. We are down to eight and this week, they are grouped in groups of four. Your job is to read the articles, comment on them in the comments section and then vote for your favorite in the poll to the right. The fan vote will join the Mosley, Tomlin, Beisner, Evan and my vote and one of the three will be eliminated. We will do the same thing tomorrow with the other four contestants. So one of these four will be voted off the island.
TODAYS TOPIC: FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE UK PLAYER OF ALL TIME:
Just for the record, I have put off this assignment like a high school book report, and only now, at 12:35 pm on Sunday, have I even attempted to get started. See, even though every one has their “favorite” player at UK, I don’t think it’s really that simple. There is too much history and too many big moments to simply say “yeah, that guy was my favoritest-est”. It’s kinda like trying to pick your best college hook-up. Just because Traci in the DZs had that little trick she could do with her tongue, you can’t completely rule out Cami, the KD pledge who was really bendy. Thusly, I am going to cheat a little bit and name a few players outside of the obvious Delk-Prince-Hayes trinity that so greatly represented this proud program.
First up, Wayne Turner, he of the NCAA games played record (I’m too lazy/hung-over to research if he still holds it, but I think he does). Also, he made Wojo his personal bitch in the Duke game in ’98. That, along with the fact that he was constantly underrated, puts him in this post.
Next up is Erik Daniels, who made a career out of hustle and finesse. He was undersized, but consistently scored on bigger opponents because of his mastery of low post moves. I still remember the game at MSU where UK was down a point with very little time on the clock (2.7?) and Daniels grabbed a bad pass out of midair, did a funky little power dribble/scoop move, and hit the game-winner at the buzzer. Besides, any man who can throw up in a trash can at courtside during a game, and not miss a beat, is a fine man in my book.
Lastly, we come to Bobby Perry. This isn’t for KSR suck-up purposes or golf tips, but for the 2006 March Madness game for PS2. I had him as my power forward, and he proceeded to sweep every national award for the remainder of his career, and gallantly led the team to 3 straight titles. And at the end of the day, aren’t video game accomplishments as cherished as any? Because of his digital prowess, I found myself rooting for him harder than anyone else on those particular teams.
With that out of the way, we can get to the easy part: least favorite player. I’m not gonna say Saul Smith, because he actually did a decent job considering everything he went through. Instead, I am going with Cory Sears. Remember him? I didn’t think so. He stood up during timeouts for the 00-01/01-02 seasons. Why don’t I like him? He was red-headed. The 11th Commandment states “Thou shalt make fun of fiery locks, and thou shalt do it with vigor, unless the fiery locks are cast upon the head of John Pelphrey”. Wow, the 11th Commandment is a bit long. On the bright side, we know God is a UK fan. Plus, I played against him (Cory Sears, not God) in a YMCA league a year later, and he is a big douche. But a red-headed douche, which is bad. Have you ever seen his picture? It looks like Opie had a love child with Dick York (the first Darrin Stevens from Bewitched). Roderick Rhodes gets an honorable mention here as well.
Remember that girl from high school? You know the one. She moved to your school just before freshman year from somewhere out in California. You had heard that just the year before she was voted one of the 25 hottest eighth graders in the country. You didn?t see anything special at first, but by sophomore year, she really started to stand out from the other girls in school. You weren’t at all surprised when after she won the tri-county beauty pageant her junior year, the rumors of her dropping out of school to become a model began to circulate. But when you showed up senior year and saw her in the hallway, you knew it was going to be a memorable year. You heard about some of the crazy things she was doing, and you even go to see what she did to all those guys from North Carolina because, thankfully, someone video taped it. And now, even though she is years removed from school, your school always gets brought up whenever she does something that gets her face plastered all over the news. Unlike her. You remember her, the new principal’s daughter. Everyone loved the old principal’s daughter, so what was wrong with this new one? She did everything she could to fit in. Assisting others with their work (10th all time) to appeal to the nerd crowd and practicing petty thievery (16th all time) to show she wasn?t just some stuck up principals daughter. But still, no one liked her. Why? Maybe it was because she kind of resembled an old rock star. Maybe it was because her dad insisted on bringing in so many foreign exchange students. Or maybe we had just been spoiled by those who had come before her that we failed to realize that maybe she alright after all. Whatever it was, I hope she fails at whatever she’s doing now. I don?t really know what all that has to do with my favorite and least favorite players, but here they are.
G’day from Australia to my fellow Big Blue faithful,
FAVORITE PLAYER: Chuck Hayes
Like the pleasant surprise of finding a $20 bill in your pocket, Chuck Hayes quickly emerged from an unknown, lightly recruited freshman into one of UK basketball’s all-time great players. Chuck Hayes is my favorite basketball player because he constantly overachieved beyond his abilities and through sheer effort willed the Cats to victory. You knew Chuck would bring Rowdy Roddy Piper-like pain to the opposing team every second he was in the game. Although Chuck’s four year averages of 9.0 pts. and 6.8 rebs. per game are somewhat pedestrian, his ability to take a charge or grab a loose ball seemed always spark a comeback for Big Blue to tough out another victory.
Chuck encapsulated what we all cheer for as a diehard Wildcat fans – a player who understands the true passion & appreciation to wear a UK jersey. As a scrawny bloke myself (I actually do look like Murray from Conchords, except I’m not a sheep-loving Kiwi), I drew inspiration from Hayes’ effort through the thick & thin of everyday life. Chuck Hayes is a winner and this mentality was a great reflection for the University of Kentucky.
LEAST FAVORITE PLAYER: Antoine Walker
When living in Sydney, going back to the States to attend a UK game is really special. In 1996, I attended the SEC Tourney in New Orleans. After a 24 hour, multi-layover flight from Sydney to New Orleans, I wanted to soak up the Wildcat nation energy and I got the Superdome crazy early to watch the Cats get off the team bus. I shouted a couple “Go Cats” to the guys as they walked by but things got weird with Antoine Walker. In strange choice of words I shouted “Give ’em hell, Antoine!” At the same time these words pierced the air, he was adjusting his headphones and he must’ve translated it as “go to hell Antoine” At this point he stopped walking & stared, towering over me with a confused look:
Walker’s response: “What’d you say boy… go to hell?” Me, now slightly terrified at the twist of events, scrambled my mind for a rebuttal but Antoine answered for me: “That’s what I thought” and walked off. The whole “interaction” left me confused and a little worried ‘Toine might get his boys to give me the beatdown. But then I thought, well what are the odds I’ll actually see him again…
As fate would have it after the Cats victory in the first game, while waiting at on the hotel elevators, a tall guy walked up beside me. I glanced up. It was ‘Toine alright. My brain raced for something to say & mustered “umm good game today” Antoine, his brain synapses connecting to recognize I was the ‘go to hell fan’ replied with a classic “yo I know I got game, why you keep gettin’ up in my face lil man!”
As an impressionable teen, this “gettin’ up in my face” taunt would dance around in my head & if I had to pick a least favorite, it’s Antoine. But really just because Walker flashed a ‘tude doesn’t mean he’s a wanker. How else do you expect a young, confident bloke knowing he’s destined to earn NBA chedda to act around some pimple-faced teen he thought said “go to hell?” In a twisted way, my “interaction” with Antoine expontentially helped my smack talk in pickup games. For example, if I do miraculous swish a deep 3, my shoulders automatically start convulsing into the ‘Toine shoulder shimmy and I shout out “yo I know I got game, why you keep gettin’ up in my face” Of course if I miss a long triple, I shout “because they aren’t any fours” Although these random quotes are lost in translation on the mean suburban streets of Sydney, I’m sure Walker pleased to know he’s getting shout outs from Down Under.
You can figure out who is my favorite Kentucky basketball player by taking a look at my old bedroom. Several posters line the walls: the promotional poster from the “Dream Game,” several “3” signs, various ticket stubs, a weathered Top Gun poster (hey, every girl fantasized about Tom Cruise before we found out he was crazy), and finally, the centerpiece of my tableau, my “The Naz” poster. That’s right, Nazr Mohammed. Most people favor Tony Delk (the golden retriever of Kentucky basketball players), TayTay Prince (whom I love, but he looks like a newly hatched chicken), or Travis Ford (Kentucky’s favorite son). So, I feel it is my duty to bring my other number one man, Nazr Mohammed, into the spotlight.
“The Naz” came to Lexington as Rick Pitino’s overweight pet project and left (albeit too early) as one of the top centers in the country. I love the story of Rick Pitino making Nazr run behind the team bus to help him lose weight (in my head, he tied a few cheeseburgers to the bumper for encouragement). I love Nazr’s patented soft jump hook and his wonderfully jacked up teeth. When I was thirteen, my parents and I were watching the news together, and WLEX said that Nazr was at Kentucky Korner in Fayette Mall signing autographs that evening. Without question, we jumped in the car and drove from Danville to Lexington to meet him. We were the last people to show up, and I nervously approached Nazr, my newly purchased poster in hand. An older man sat next to Nazr and urged him to sign my poster, which he did with a shy smile. Nazr’s autograph has faded over time, but my love for the big man never will.
Another poster in my room features the 2001-2002 Kentucky team. There are several shiny, happy faces on that poster, save one. A large black “X” mars the face of Rashaad Carruth. A thug worthy of Louisville, Carruth smelled like trouble from the start (was it the stale stench of Olde English 800 or the fear that he’d whip out a gun whenever someone fouled him?). I wanted to like Rashaad, I really did. His performance against Duke in 2001 was heartening, but ultimately his troublemaking ways and unwavering desire for attention led him to transfer to Southern Miss. Good riddance, sir, and good luck.
Evan: Again, congrats to all of you for making it this far. Only 12 more rounds to go!
Chris: I think this is a very strong effort. However, I must add one thing and I hate myself for saying it. Don’t try so hard. Your last paragraph, seemingly the one you wrote with the least amount of thought, is your best. I get the feeling that you are trying a little too hard to be super hilarious and awesome, and it pains me because you so obviously have the talent and the humor. Now, don’t read this as me masquerading as some tremendous, accomplished writer (though, I mean, c’mon…it is Halloween), but I’m going to toss some advice your way that I got in college from a professor. Quit being such a drunk idiot all the time. No, wait, that’s not it. This: The key to great writing is not trying to write great. Just let it flow, my man, and you may have this in the bag.
Corey: I like the creativity. Really, I do. At least, I think I do. I’m going to be honest: I didn’t click the links. I ran my cursor to see where they were going, so I got the gist. But there were like, a million. It didn’t really do it for me, though you did keep it from being a trillion words (<—–foreshadowing).
Darrell: G’day to you, Darrell. Holy crap, did you write a lot. Wasn’t this supposed to be a paragraph each? People don’t follow instructions anymore. Whatever, it’s OK. The story about ‘Toine is solid, I enjoyed it and it’s a safe way to pick a least favorite. Overall, it was good. The writing was strong, should be enough for ya. For the next round, let’s try and be a bit less wordy. And don’t be afraid to liven it up with some Australian colloquialisms. We could use the international flavor to counteract Beisner’s failed attempt at speaking Twain’s “American” (<—–I don’t get it).
Tyler: First of all, you’re a chick and you referred to your bedroom. That’s hot. Hey, you’re from Danville: Go Ads (or Rebs!)! This should be good enough to move you to the next round. You threw some gun talk in late—good for you. Best of luck, but you’ll have to really bring it next round if you move on.
Beisner: Another solid group of entries.
Chris: Overall, very good. I like how you’ve associated yourself with numerous favorite players because I think we all have multiple guys we root for, but I hope you didn’t do it because you’re like the guy I work with who claims to be a hardcore Rays and Yankees fan, as well as rooting for UConn and Duke basketball. What a jackass. Also, I’m giving bonus points to anyone who picks Erik Daniels as their favorite player because there is absolutely nothing to dislike about the man – even if he refuses to do a “Where are they now?” interview with me.
Darrell: Darrell, you were my round 1 pick. So, I’m sorry to inform you that along with that Beisner-infatuation comes the hardcore expectations for greatness instilled in me by my step-father when he was coaching my little league teams. You’re going to be batting last in this round and playing right no matter what you do because it builds character. You must tough your way through this.
But, with that being said, I liked it again. Your Antoine Walker story was entertaining and particularly enjoyable to me because Antoine’s NBA career has likely turned him into my least-favorite player. You didn’t get too caught up in forcing absurdity or goofiness and I thought your post was very easy to read and enjoyable – even if it was a little lengthy. I liked it, but you’re still riding pine for most of the game.
Tyler: You’re a very good writer and that shows in your piece. To be honest, I didn’t think this was nearly as good as your first, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. Your loyalty to Nazr and the little tidbits about him were solid and you can tell that you’re very dedicated to the cause. But, I have a major issue. I’m sure I’m in the minority here, with both the writers and the readers, but I love Rashaad Carruth. Sure, he’s probably a charter member of the “Pu 55 y” club for quitting like 100 teams, but any man who proudly wears his own McDonald’s All-American jersey is just a flat-out baller in my book.
Tomlin: First off, I have a question. Did you guys get the same “second round” email that Matt sent out to the first batch? Because these were full-on entire articles, whereas the first round was a little more succinct and reigned-in. Not that it’s bad, it just cuts into the time I usually spend each day cutting letters out of magazines for my Jerry O’Connell hate mail. But oh well. Duty calls.
Chris: It’s probably no secret that you and Tyler T. have the most rabid fan support in the message boards. I have to be honest, while your first piece wasn’t exactly my complete cup of tea (though I did like it), I really enjoyed this round’s stuff. I’m tempted to detract points, as I know we all have many players and you couldn’t commit to one. But I won’t. I thought it was sharp and well-done. Because of all the favorites (no Cotton Nash? Ed Davender?), it came off as a little longwinded, but consistently solid. I think you could definitely fit in with the voice of the crew here if you win the competition. Your second post has shown a good style across the board, and thats a big plus. Nice work.
Corey: The slightly creepy analogy at work here is really clever, and I hope everyone clicked on your links because it makes your piece even more exponentially funny. One of the biggest challenges in writing for this site is consistently finding new ways to talk about many of the same topics, and you did that here in spades. If you win, I hope we won’t see 39 links in every piece you write, but it worked here. It made me laugh several times, and I do like to laugh. Here’s the funny thing though — even though the analogy was odd, it worked because the comparison you set up was smart and well-founded. I really liked that a lot, and I think it shows a remarkable amount of thought and craft in your writing. This one’s my favorite of this round. Great ingenuity. I’d really like to see what else you’d come up with, because I think you’re funny and odd enough to have created a great, individual style.
Darrell: I think I may have been too hard on your first post, in retrospect, but there were just too many good Australia jokes to get out there. Now that it’s all out of my system, I thought you really rose to the occasion and brought a solid piece to the table that answered the challenge at hand. I also love that you almost called ‘Toine a wanker. That’s another point in your column. Is it creative enough to grab the rabid comment board? Not sure. But I hope they’ll see that you show a command of language and a nice wit that makes you a solid choice. Do you wear one of those hats that buttons up on the side? Okay, I’m done.
Tyler: I can’t think of anything I can say that’s going to detract from your fan base here. I agree with Beisner that I don’t think it was as strong as your first outing, and it was a little long in spots, but that’s okay. You write well, with a good voice and you back up your choices sheerly on personal opinion alone (which was what we hoped we’d see in this round), and that’s a solid way to do things. I’m not going to waste a lot of time critiquing you — I thought it was very good, and I know your fans are going to carry you even further in the message boards, so I’m not sure anything I’d say here will carry any weight. Plus, I’m afraid that if I say anything out-of-line that EyewearMan will come to my house and kill me. Good luck!
Chris: You were actually my pick in the first round, but I didn’t come away as impressed this time. I think Evan said it best when he said
“Mosley is such a handsome man with very strong hands” “Don’t try so hard, ” and hope that you will take that advice. The sorority girls comparison works as a simile, but I found it to be too overt. It seems that you defaulted to the lowest common denominator on that one when you could have used the comparison to be more clever. Then again, I’m sure that a large percentage of our readership probably thought it was great, so maybe my point is unfounded. The idea of liking Bobby Perry because of his digital abilities is a good observation and make me laugh as did the fantastic catch of Cory Sears-as-Opie-meets-Dick-York. As I re-read your piece, it strikes me that the first paragraph, for some reason, just put a bad taste in my mouth for the remainder, as the rest is good. There’s just something about that first paragraph. Anywho, I thought you had the best round 1 and this effort will surely get you to the next round. Just remember to relax, let it flow, and don’t worry about going for the kill with every reader. Understand that it’s OK if not everyone gets every joke.
Corey: I thought this was very creative and the first comparison (Tayshaun) was almost perfect. The second half wasn’t quite as tight as the first, so that leads me to drop you from a 9 or 10 down to a 7 or 8 for the combined effort. Great use of the technology and well done on thinking through the entire analogy.
Darrell: Nothing to dislike, but nothing really jumped out at me either. Nice ode to Chucky with a shout-out to Rowdy Roddy Piper, but the ‘Toine Walker selection, while recounted well, didn’t enthrall me. Fine effort, but let’s see if it gets you to the next round.
Tyler: You’re a girl. OK, so now that I’ve gotten that out of the way (because apparently that’s all any of us, judges and commenters included, seem to talk about when discussing one of your posts), we can talk about what you bring to the table in this selection as a writer–not as someone who has two X chromosomes. I like your writing style. I think it’s just snarky enough without being mean-spirited to work with the general tenor of this blog. The comparisons of Delk to a golden retriever and Tay to a baby chick are very good as is the observation that Naz had teeth akin to that of a British royal. I really like the fact that your writing doesn’t seem forced; it’s as if you are having a conversation. Was this selection the best of the four? Probably not. But, for me, you would pass on to the next round, although I don’t think this effort is as good as you can do.
MATT: Corey’s is great in my view for its creativity and creepiness. I am not sure how the fans will feel, but my first round pick again brought it in my view. I am not sure what I think about Darrell’s as it was way too long and didnt follow instructions. In some civilizations, that would get you banned for life. As for Chris, I thought is was a good, solid work…..need to see you step up the game a bit, but it was good. And Tyler, I was disappointed in this round. Your fans here are fervent, but Jennifer raised the bar in this round and you may be on shaky ground when the cut is made.
VOTE IN THE POLL TO THE RIGHT!