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Enjoy it for what it was – a team full of genuinely good people

Throughout the course of a basketball season, the BBN always hopes to get to know the players they’re cheering for, both on and off the court. Some years are better than others, but this season felt especially successful in that regard. Thanks to a pre-season trip to the Bahamas, Jonny David’s All-Access videos and UK’s weekly behind-the-scenes look into each game in The Journey, Kentucky fans finally got the chance to once again feel close to UK’s star players, even if we only “get” them in Lexington for a few months. For the first time since the 2015 season, I felt like fans got the chance to enjoy not only the team’s basketball skills, but their personalities as well.

Now that the season is freshly over, it’s easy to forget how fun it was to get to know these guys. In a few weeks or maybe even months, once the dust settles, I hope the BBN can look past the bitter ending and the “what ifs” and remember how likable this group of young men became throughout the season.

They cut through the casino in the Bahamas to get a few more shots up late at night; Immanuel Quickley danced his heart out at Big Blue Madness. Brad Calipari’s fashion statements became a major storyline, but Tyler Herro often treated us with a funky shirt or two, as well. Keldon Johnson stole Jonny David’s microphone and serenaded the media; Ashton Hagans gave us the air guitar.

We had Reid Travis and John Calipari exchanging Supreme Court opinions, a few too many Instagram Lives and the now-famous saying, “I’m a bucket.” They spent time in the community, keeping the tradition of volunteering on Thanksgiving while adding a few new ideas, including taking food to a homeless man. The whole squad got together to celebrate Calipari’s 60th birthday – they had the shirts to prove it.

They beat the No. 1 team in America when College GameDay was in Lexington, and John Calipari earned his spot as the No. 2 winningest coach in Kentucky basketball history, while Ellen Calipari stole the show on Instagram. They beat Louisville by 15 points.

They fought off adversity – remember when Quade Green announced his decision to transfer? That feels like a lifetime ago. There were two major injuries that came at unfortunate times, but despite some nasty rumors, both players came back at full strength for the good of the team. Reid Travis brought the leadership, experience and poise Kentucky fans haven’t seen a lot of lately. From start to finish, he gave his all for the name on the front of his jersey, not the back – and let’s not forget the knee injury wasn’t Travis’ first physical sacrifice of the season:

Through it all, this team was simply a good group of men. There are dozens of people who work behind-the-scenes to get Kentucky on the national stage every year without much recognition. These are the people who spent the most time with the team; these are the people who got to know them the best. Some of these people weighed in on what the 2018-19 Cats meant to them.

Eric Lindsey, UK’s Director of Athletic Communications and Public Relations, had my favorite insider look at this year’s team, calling them the “absolute best group” he’s seen during his time at Kentucky.

In a later tweet, he continued:

“These kids made me laugh, they made me smile, made me want to be around them every day and made me want to work harder for them. This one will hurt them for a while but I hope when the dust settles they look back at this season as fondly as I do. Love every one of them.”

Lindsey wasn’t the only one to offer a positive review of this year’s team as people, rather than as players. Editor TJ Beisner did the same:

“I hope you all loved this team as much as we did,” Beisner tweeted. “It was a special group that wanted this so badly. Hate the way it ended and how much it hurts, but thankful for the journey.”

Deb Moore, UK’s Associate Director of Athletics Communications and Public Relations, hasn’t publicly made a statement after Sunday’s loss, but she did make this confession after Friday’s win.

And, of course, John Calipari offered his viewpoint in a series of tweets. This one was the best:

“I so badly wanted to get to next weekend to have another week to coach these kids. I’ve enjoyed coaching this group as much as any I have ever had,” Coach Cal tweeted. “These are a bunch of great kids and I hope our fan base celebrates them for a terrific season.”

For as much as Sunday’s loss to Auburn hurt, the majority of this season did the opposite. A disappointing finish should not erase an otherwise-fun year, no matter how badly it stings right now.

Earlier this season, Calipari was asked to compare this year’s group with the last one that began their season in the Bahamas – the 38-0, 2015 team. His response was uncharacteristically direct: “this is not a team full of lottery picks.” While this statement still rings true, it doesn’t diminish what this team was: a team full of genuinely good people who we all got to know. The BBN can cherish that forever.



Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

19 Comments for Enjoy it for what it was – a team full of genuinely good people

  1. CatfaninCinci
    9:06 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

    It’s alright gang. We get Brad Calipari back next year! 3s be raining!

  2. makeitstop
    9:08 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

    Thank u for that.

  3. TheAssman
    9:10 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

    Great take Maggie!!

  4. Kyceltsfan
    9:28 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

    This is what breaks my heart the most! I wanted so much for this group because I thought they genuinely wanted to play for UK. Totally different vibe from last years team.

  5. sickofit1996
    9:37 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

    None of these kids care about our school!!!!!!! So when they leave I don’t care about them!!!!!!! Quit making it out like they come to kentucky cause they love it! They come to get a check at the end!

    • mashman 93
      9:45 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

      Fans like you make me sick.

    • Catfan4life-original
      9:52 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

      No need to refer to her as a fan. She doesn’t care about our players. If she doesn’t like our kids then she is free to root for another team who cares about her and her paycheck.

    • makeitstop
      9:46 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

      Back to the Yum Center, Impostor

    • CATandMONKEY
      10:32 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

      Our commonwealth has worked tirelessly for decades to (mostly)successfully overcome the stereotype that all KY citizens are ignorant, inbred hillbillies with no gray-matter between their ears. . .

      Then along comes sickofit1996.

      Thanks buddy.

    • sickofit1996
      11:29 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

      Cat and Monkey do you have a crush on me????? I have a opinion about my cats so please go play with a animal or visit a zoo.

    • Soylentbeans
      12:04 am April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Y’all will take a dump on anything posted on this site wont you? It’s an article talking about GOOD people and you show how you aren’t a good person.

    • Soylentbeans
      12:14 am April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Coming to UK for the betterment of themselves and caring about the team or the fans or the tradition dont have to be as mutually exclusive as you make it out to be. I’m sure some guys could care less about the school(looking at you daniel orton)but it’s my estamation that most do indeed care about the school, the fans, the tradition.

  6. Catfan4life-original
    9:46 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

    We are all disappointed, including the players but at the end of the day these are some good kids and I’m proud of them. They had a bad game but life is bigger than basketball. I see some successful young men in the future. Thanks to our coaching staff who contributed to that in anyway they did. Go Cats!

    • Kyceltsfan
      9:58 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

      Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • mashman 93
      10:11 pm April 1, 2019 Permalink

      Amen brother. GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  7. Glock
    12:15 am April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Hope Reid can get paid to play somewhere he is one awesome dude. If not im sure any place in Lex would give him six figures to be their PR /motivational speaker face of their company. Class act

  8. wkueku
    7:04 am April 2, 2019 Permalink

    I did enjoy the young men and will remember them in the future. The team acted like they were from Kentucky and proud to wear the uniform.

  9. michaelb
    10:03 am April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Yes this is one of the better groups to come through. They’re so likable and we’re really good players . My fav team ever in uk history

    • kjd
      12:04 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Fav team in UK history… many years are you talking about?