You know basketball is really upon us when the team posters hit Kroger. This year’s posters were unveiled this afternoon:
How do this year’s posters rank up against the others from the Calipari Era? In what is becoming an annual exercise, I ranked the posters in terms of appearance, composition, or simply, “Would I hang this on my wall?”. I’ll start with my favorite, then work down to least favorite.
1. 2016-2017 Team Poster
From a graphic design standpoint, these posters are by far the most compelling of the Calipari Era. Each poster/side pairs two players up in almost a mirror image with the schedule in the middle and banners at the top. The high-def portraits against the black background are striking and sophisticated, showcasing UK photographer Chet White’s excellent work.
2. 2013-2014: “Play Like Wildcats”
I’m a big fan of posters in which the players are “anchored” in something and not just floating around space. This poster is a good example of that. Clean, classic, and showcasing each player in proper proportion (including Brian Long’s fauxhawk and Tod Lanter’s biceps), the composition of this image is excellent. Sometimes simple is best.
3. 2017-18: “Embrace the Challenge”
This year’s poster features silhouettes of all 14 current players surrounded by great players and moments from the Calipari era. This season’s slogan, “Embrace the Challenge,” runs along the top and all of Calipari’s famous sayings make up the background. Overall, I like the design, and it’s hard not to smile when you see all the nods to the past. While all of the players are shrouded in darkness on the primary poster (a nice touch of team unity), their portraits are included on the secondary posters.
Again, a sharp look, but not my favorite.
4. 2014-2015: “Succeed & Proceed”
UK really got some mileage out of this poster, releasing collectable versions of each frame throughout the season at home games. For that reason, I’ve got it in my top three because of the personalized slogan for each player (Alex: “Courage Doesn’t Always Roar”; Tyler Ulis: “Heart Over Height”). The composition of the poster may not be the most exciting in the world, but I’ll admit that I cherish it for sentimental reasons.
5. 2015-2016: “Who Wants to Be Next?”
I love the state outline insert with Rupp and the bold KENTUCKY across the top, but the photoshopped players in various poses kind of ruins it for me. It just looks too messy on top of so many other layers of images; however, considering the bottom four of my rankings, it is light years ahead of the rest…
6. 2010-2011: “It Happens Here”
This is the first of what I call the “vignette posters,” which feature clusters of images paired with phrases (i.e.: “Celebrate” with DeMarcus in the UK2K shirt). It’s a nice way to feature a lot of pictures and accomplishments from the previous season (which was a huge one to say the least), but it’s all a little too much. It feels like looking inside Calipari’s brain, and not in a good way.
7. 2012-2013: “Count On It”
This is what I call the Count von Count poster, in which the numbers 1-8 represent not only the school’s eight national championships, but various other things, like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going first and second in the 2012 Draft, a terribly photoshopped Kyle Wiltjer doing three goggles, Final Fours, and the 2012 National Championship trophy.
The trophy saves this poster for me, honestly. Again, we’ve got a lot of propaganda in a small space, too much if you ask me. Thankfully, over the years, the posters have become less about Calipari’s latest buzzwords and more about actual design.
8. 2011-2012: “Kentucky Effect”
It’s a shame that the 2012 team didn’t have a poster to match their talent. This one isn’t horrible, just a little plain. It’s basically a shrine to Calipari’s latest slogan at the time, the “Kentucky Effect.” Several of the program’s accomplishments are featured alongside pictures of the players, and, for some reason, Josh Harrellson in his cap and gown (we graduate players, too!).
9. 2009-2010: “One World, One Big Blue Nation”
Calipari’s first season in Lexington was arguably his most exciting, which is why it’s so unfortunate that the poster is the most depressing. There’s a lot going on here, from the “One World” theme, to the basketball planet Earth, to the different translations of “Go Big Blue” scattered all around the top of the poster, aka space. Did the graphic design double major in world studies or something? Photoshopped Calipari doesn’t even look happy.
The only explanation I can think of is Calipari trying to market the program to international players like Enes Kanter, who committed to Kentucky in November 2009. Remember when Calipari was obsessed with China for a while? This poster came out around the same time. On a team with such big personalities like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, I’m a little sad we couldn’t come up with anything better than something you’d see at an international fair or an arrivals area of an airport.
Which poster is your favorite? Rank them below: