The 2012 UK Alumni Charity Game at Rupp Arena might as well be called a pickup game. Set to tip off at 2 PM on Saturday afternoon, the rosters feature a list of Kentucky Wildcat all-stars.
Unfortunately for Kentucky fans that didn’t buy tickets, this game will not be broadcast on television or streamed over the internet. That is, in part, due to the NBA players that are playing in the game.
The 1996 Kentucky Wildcats will be playing in the second game and Kentucky coach John Calipari addressed the media on why it was important to bring back former players to Lexington.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Calipari said. “When you’re sitting in the seat I’m in, you’re the keeper of the tradition. Being part of that means you reach out, like I do with Coach Joe B. Hall, like I do with Herky Rupp and their family. You reach back and you bring people back in and make them understand and let them know this is about them. This is their program.
“The ’96 guys have been fabulous, by the way. Like, unbelievable. And they’re so appreciative to be here. And they already told me, ‘You tell everybody to get to this game, ’cause we are not losing. We will not lose a quarter.’ And some of them want to play with the current players that are playing in the NBA, which we said, fine.”
The interesting predicament is what to do with former Wildcat center Nazr Mohammed. He was a member of the 1996 team but, at the same time, he is also the only player from that team that is currently playing in the NBA.
Calipari also talked about what that team would look like in the one and done era.
“Well, that team wouldn’t have been together, because they’d have all left early if it was now,” Calipari said. “So if you want to put us back then, OK. I will tell you that they had guys, like, they wanted Nazr Mohammed to play with them instead of with the current NBA guys and I said, ‘No. You wouldn’t let him play when he was on your team.’ He didn’t even play! He’s still in the NBA. So that’s how good that team was. They also sacrificed for each other where guys were playing 23, 24 minutes a game, which in this day and age is a little harder to do. But my hat’s off to them. They played and they played well, and I think both teams were good in different ways. You could say that those are maybe two of the better teams in the last 25 years.”
Calipari would like to honor former players like Mike Pratt, Jimmy Dan Conner, Sam Bowie, etc. even if they do not play on Saturday.