Kentucky Basketball: It’s Special Here

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As the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball team prepares for the upcoming 2013-14 season, and the Big Blue Nation gets ready for the over the top spectacular known as Big Blue Madness, it’s a good time to stop and reflect on why Kentucky Basketball is special and unique.

Feb 20, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari coaches forward Alex Poythress (22) during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 74-70. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Statistically, the program is the bluest of the college basketball bluebloods. First in all-time NCAA wins and second in NCAA championships, the basketball program’s history compares to any around the country. But, Kentucky is more than just numbers. Despite all the hardware on display in the Craft Center, some of the most beloved teams and players in the program’s history didn’t win championships and some of the greatest and most cherished memories involve games that most outside of the Big Blue Nation have forgotten.

Mar 15, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) dunks the ball during the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Basketball is special because on a night in Knoxville on an otherwise forgotten team and playing for a coach that simply wasn’t a good fit, Jodie Meeks put on a scoring show and lit up the Volunteers for 54 points.  Kentucky Basketball is special because in a game against the Ole Miss Rebels, Nerlens Noel anchored a reeling team and shut down the paint… while playing with four fouls.  Kentucky Basketball is special because Patrick Sparks hit a shot against Michigan State, sending the Elite Eight matchup to overtime and hit three free throws to seal a comeback against archrival Louisville.  Kentucky Basketball is special because Sam Bowie, on one good leg, took the Cats to the 1984 Final Four.

Kentucky Basketball is special because of Anthony’s brow, Nerlens’ flat top, “Sky” Walker’s goggles and Kyle Macy’s socks.

Kentucky Basketball is special because of the heart of the Wildcats displayed at Miracle at Mardis Gras in 1993, The Game against Duke in 1992, and during the 1998 Championship run.

Kentucky Basketball is special because thousands of people line up and camp out for weeks for a chance to get tickets to what basically amounts to a glorified practice. It’s special because when the SEC Tournament is played, the host city must be prepared for the Blue Mist to descend and take over. Cats playing in California? The Big Blue Nation will be there. Honolulu? Anchorage? New York City? Wherever the Wildcats play, the Big Blue Nation will be there and be loud and numerous to show their love for the Cats. As a rival coach once said, “Blue gets in.”

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  • oldkentucky

    I live in Oklahoma and frequently wear Kentucky gear. Quite often people come up to me and tell me how much they like the Wildcats. It is a lot of fun to talk with them. I really liked your piece.

  • Paul Jordan

    I’m in Florida and I run into blue almost every day

  • diverdown48

    I work as an event planner and manager these days in retirement. I recently worked the Feast on the Fifty at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The event brings together alumni from schools from all over. Iowa and Michigan were there, FSU and Florida of course. Orlando’s university UCF was much in attendance. The different schools set up alumni booths. There is free food from vendors such as Buffalo Wild wings and others and free beer such as Bud Lite. I had some of the best collard greens since I moved to Florida from Kentucky.
    There is fun and games for the kids and a huge fireworks display at the end. All this for just $20.
    As for Kentucky, the booth was well manned with freebies and invitations to join the Alumni Association. Being a UCF grad does not stop me from cheering on the two best schools in America, Go Blue, Go Knights.
    If you are in the Orlando area next year, be sure and check it out. Find it on the web at Feast on the Fifty and join the fun.