I remember the first time someone sent me a text message. I was in law school and on my new cell phone (which was that tiny square Nokia thing we all had back then), my then-girlfriend texted me to say “isn’t this cool?!?” Beyond the excess amount of punctuation marks, the thing that stuck out the most to me was the fact that this new way to communicate seemed a bit of a hassle. Not only was it charging me money (10 cents a message back then), but responding took forever. There were three letters on every number, I kept making mistakes continuously and my response (“Sure. How r u?”) took me at least five minutes. At that moment I decreed that texting was a total waste of time and anyone that did it needed something to do with their spare time.
Fast forward 13 years and now texting is my most consistent form of communication. When someone takes the time to call me instead of texting, I assume that the conversation is going to be very intense, that they have more than two sentences worth of thoughts to communicate and that my voicemail is probably the best play for their response. What once seemed ridiculous has now become commonplace. We live in a texting world. I thought of that today as I walked the streets of Louisville and saw 30-40 people with their heads buried in their phones playing “Pokemon Go.” I don’t claim to know anything about it beyond the basic fact that you use your phone to walk the streets and track down/accumulate little characters that then prove to the world you are king of the Pokemon army. It seems to me like a stupendous waste of time but as I looked up and down the Highlands, there were people of all ages, ranging from excited children to bearded hipsters to old hippies with pale legs, all playing it with intensity and happiness. My natural instinct is to mock and ridicule. But maybe like with texting, we are on the brink of living in a Pokemon world. Overcome by the reality of their monotonous lives, maybe people will get joy out of acting like they live in a massive cartoon land, where places are to be visited not for their intrinsic beauty but for the collection of digital rewards. I have read that Pokemon Go was just released in America on Wednesday night, and if that is true, my stroll down the streets of Louisville suggest that it has already been massively successful. It seems moronic to me, but then again so once did texting. Its a Pokemon Go world and I guess we all just have to deal with it (unless it becomes like Trivia Crack…remember how we all played that for a few weeks? Whatever happened to that?)
A few notes on the weekend:
— With all the tragedy that engulfed this country last week and the resulting spread of stupid opinions throughout the Facebook world, I used this weekend as a chance to unplug from most internet communication and instead just watch a number of sporting events. I spent a lot of time watching NBA Summer League and seeing former UK players hit a very high level. The two players that were by far the most impressive were Devin Booker and Trey Lyles, both young men who are headed for NBA stardom. Both guys had 28 points in the games I watched and each were the best player on the floor by a large degree. The 2014 UK recruiting class was initially considered the worst of the Calipari era, based solely on rankings and the lack of any real star power beyond Karl Towns. But in the end, it could be the best as I think there are two potential high level NBA starters (Booker/Lyles), one starting NBA point guard (Ulis) and a historically transcendent potential star (Towns). That is pretty freaking good.
— The happiest part of the weekend to me was reading this morning that Andrew Harrison signed a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. The three year deal basically ensures that Harrison will be in the league and that his struggles to get accepted by a NBA team are complete. He still may have some D-League service, but now if it happens he gets NBA money and the team will be much more likely to call him up since his contract is on their books. It is a huge win for Andrew who was under a lot of pressure this summer. If he finished this year without a deal, he could easily end up in the drifting guard pile of guys who float in and out of NBA rosters and rarely stick to make any money. A NBA scout once told me “big guys get three years, guards two years…if they aren’t in the NBA then, the chance of them ever making it becomes very remote.” I think that is true, especially when you are like Andrew and your talent isn’t due to extreme physical gifts. Andrew was dominant in his first couple of Summer League games and that was enough for Memphis to sign him, a great result for the eldest Harrison. Andrew took more criticism than any UK player since Saul Smith and deserved virtually none of it. He won at a high level at UK and is a great kid who I hope rightly celebrates the culmination of a ton of work to get to this point.
— This afternoon I also watched the championship of the Peach Jam, where a number of UK targets were playing, including Trae Young, Mohammed Bamba and Quade Green. All of them showed their talents but Trae Young is exceptional. In fact, Trae Young is in my mind, the most important recruit of the class for UK. His talent is immense, as he plays the Point Guard position exactly as you would hope…he can pass, handle the ball, frustrate on defense and finish at the rim. But what was so impressive today is the range he has on his outside shots. Young made threes from all angles and dominated a first half that saw his team lead by 18. On a floor with four of the top 50 players in America, Young was the standout and even outshone the Bamba/Michael Porter Jr duo competing to be the top player in America. Young is said to be torn between Oklahoma and Kentucky. He is close with DeAaron Fox, but is also from Norman and friends with Buddy Hield. His recruitment will probably take some more time, but I want him badly in Blue and White…he should be the next of the great UK point guards under Calipari.
— SEC Media Days start tomorrow and KSR has Nick Roush and Freddie Maggard on the scene in Birmingham for the events. In the rest of the SEC, this is one of the biggest weeks of the year, with a circus of people waiting to hear every line uttered by the SEC coaches and players before another massive season. In Kentucky, we rarely even know it is going on. My hope is that Mark Stoops can find a way to get folks excited this year in the same way that he has the previous three but he faces an uphill climb. Most fans I have spoken with are completely in “wait and see” mode and to the extent there has been any talk about football it has been wondering if a season-crushing loss to Southern Miss in the opening game is a possibility. I think the Cats win that game and have a fighting shot the next week versus Florida, but the reality is that for Stoops, success this season is a must. He has had such a great impact on the program in terms of excitement, facilities and talent that UK Football is in a significantly better place today than it was before he arrived. But now he needs to win…this is the year and the road to wherever we end up begins this week.
Six weeks to football…Freddie (who is as excited for SEC Media Days as any human should reasonably be allowed to be) and Nick are down there giving KSR all the coverage one can handle. Keep checking in this week to see what is happening.
Radio is in Louisville tomorrow, Lexington on Tuesday and then Central Kentucky the rest of the week…come out to a show and listen up before we head to Cleveland on Monday.