At the beginning of another Kentucky basketball season, the end seems forever away. Games drag on from November through December that are meaningless to the fans. The teams played have more directions than a GPS, more syllables in their name than most southerners have in their vocabulary.
It is a long year. People pass in and out of basketball consciousness like a frat girl on State Street. They tune in and out with the flip of a channel or click of their mouse. Coming in and out of the season, riding waves of highs and trying to avoid the lows.
The end appears before you know it. Signs that Spring is nearing, that means March; the end: warmer weather, rolled down windows, kids playing basketball in the street and not just on the court – all arrive. You realize you were there – past tense – when records were broken, rivalry games completed, that amazing comeback, awesome shot, buzzer beater fell, conferences won.
Then the end starts ending quicker than you realize. Hours upon hours of writing, talking, listening about the game you love seem like mere moments. Teams with hope vanish and teams without it appear quicker than that shot that sent them on into the tournament. Rounds seem like games, games are just made of mere moments – seeing 68 squads go to 32 then 16 then 8 then 4 then two then one.
You realize that like watching a slow tide, watching the Grand Canyon being etched pebble by pebble, wave by wave; players were getting better practice by practice, game by game.
You hope to realize that those moments where you were left wondering during games questions like “Why?”, “How?”, “When?” were just leading up to the time you look on now, the time they succeeded. They evolved under your nose. The boys became men. The villains became heroes and legends. The quite found their voice and the loud started to listen. They changed.
It is a special time in the Bluegrass of Kentucky. Sure, Kentucky ending on a win hasn’t occurred since 1998… more importantly, it is still fresh. You may not have appreciated that 1998 win. It was only 2 years after the last one. Appreciate this one. You still have time to realize what you witnessed, a special season, before your mind starts wondering about what is next. Hopefully, you enjoyed the ride that brought you here. If not, you certainly can enjoy sitting in the parking lot knowing where you’ve gone.
Winning is like fruit – the taste is never as good as it was fresh, straight off the vine, tree, or bush. Kentucky fans, never forget that this is a fruit, enjoy it now, but always savor how sweet it taste. Remember how it was now, but more importantly, remember how it was 3 years ago – when success was bitter.
You should never be told to settle – so always want the best, but never forget it when you got what you wanted.
Enjoy it Kentucky -#8 is upon you. There will be plenty of time to worry about #9.