If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen my outburst on Friday night, after the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball team lost in the SEC Tournament to the Vanderbilt Commodores. While I admit that Twitter isn’t the most sane place to be, especially after a Wildcats’ loss, I go there to share thoughts about the game and ideas about what could have gone better. And Friday night wasn’t any different. And that’s when I saw it. A tweet from someone, who shall go unnamed, that proclaimed to be a member of Big Blue Nation, yet had declared that he or she would be ashamed to wear their Blue and White as a result of the outcome of the game.
And, to borrow from the late Gary Coleman, “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
Look. I’m disappointed any time the Wildcats lose. I’m especially disheartened when the Cats are blown out by a team that I feel is inferior, as was the case with Vandy. But, under no circumstances, should a Wildcat fan, alumni or supporter ever feel ashamed to represent their loyalty to the Big Blue Nation. That should never, ever happen.
One game or even one season, no matter how sub par they are by our own lofty standards, defines the men’s basketball program at the University of Kentucky. Too many people have given too much to let one performance wipe it away. Do you know know how many schools that participate in intercollegiate basketball, at all levels, would trade places with the University of Kentucky? Every. Single. One.
UCLA wishes they had the devoted fan base that the Cats do. Duke wishes that their fan base was as rabidly passionate as the Big Blue Nation. And so does their blood rival, North Carolina. Kansas. Indiana. Louisville. If their fans were each given a dose of truth serum, they would all tell you that they are jealous of the things that makes Kentucky Basketball special. The way the fans travel all over the country to watch the Wildcats play. The way practices sell out. And, yes, there are the wins, the championships and the continued and ongoing success of the team that hails from Lexington, KY.
Rome rose and fell and was never heard from again. The Egyptians had the same thing happen. In college basketball, Oklahoma State won the NCAA title in 1945-1946. San Francisco, led by Bill Russell, won in 1955 and 1956. California in 1959. Those teams won NCAA titles right around the time Adolph Rupp started hanging banners. And you know what? They haven’t won since. Arizona won the title in 1997. Maryland in 2002. Syracuse in 2003. And you know what? That’s all they have to show for all their years of playing basketball. Do you think those schools would trade histories with Kentucky?
Kentucky has won in the segregated era. Kentucky has won in the short shorts era. Kentucky has one in the hip hop era. Kentucky has won by mastering the two hand set shot. Kentucky has won with one and dones. Crew cuts. High top fades. Unibrows. Kentucky wins. Kentucky has won championships with 5 different coaches and has either played for or won a title in seven different decades, a claim no other school can make. Kentucky has the most all time wins and the highest winning percentage in NCAA history. No matter when you look, Kentucky wins.
As I said Friday night, when Kentucky raises that next Final Four banner or when Championship banner No. 9, goes to Rupp’s rafters, I will look at you, doubter, and I will be ashamed that you didn’t understand or appreciate your Big Blue History. Shame on you.