Kentucky Basketball: The Night Before Christmas

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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Commonwealth…

Dec 10, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts during the game against the Boise State Broncos in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Boise State 70-55. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

University of Kentucky Head Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari was working late into the night on Christmas Eve. He was in his office, working on a gameplan to defeat the Wildcats’ most bitter rival, the University of Louisville Cardinals in the upcoming annual matchup. The Cardinals are the defending national champions. The Cardinals are ranked higher in the polls. And the young Wildcats have struggled a bit, not yet playing up to their preseason rankings and press and as the head coach, John Calipari was becoming more and more frustrated. With a start, Cal turned when he heard the rattling of chains from somewhere within the Craft Center. Cal thought he was alone, so he went to investigate. Stepping out into the hallway, he saw an image of a man with dark hair and an awkward smile on his face. The ghostly apparition gave him a wink and Cal stopped in his tracks. “Gillispie? Billy Gillispie?” Cal asked, astonished at the man floating in the air. “I thought you left never to return.”

Feb 27, 2012; Waco, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Billy Gillispie yells during the first half against the Baylor Bears at the Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“John Calipari…” the ghost began. “…I’m here to warn you to not make the same mistakes I did. The basketball program here at the University of Kentucky is special, the people of the Commonwealth are special.” Calipari smiled and looked over at the trophy case, the 2012 NCAA trophy twinkling in the light. “I think I’ve got that figured out, Billy.” “Cal, I understand that, but since then, we’ve had…” Billy trailed off and lowered his head. “We’ve had the Year of the Cardinal. And we have to put a stop to that. It’s up to you. And so, to that end, on this night you will be visited by three spirits. So heed them well.” And with that, Calipari found himself alone in the hallway.  “I’ve been working too hard,” Cal thought to himself and stepped back into his office. And there was someone sitting in his chair. A man in a brown suit. The man stood up. “John Calipari. I think you know who I am. I’m the ghost of Kentucky Basketball Past, but you can call me Mr. Rupp.” Calipari nodded, “I think I figured that out, sir.” The ghost gestured toward the door. “Now if you would please follow me…” Calipari followed the apparition into the hall and soon found himself on the floor of Memorial Coliseum.  The bright lights came on and soon the gym was filled with the sounds of squeakers and balls bouncing on the ground.  The pep band was playing “On, On, UofK” as Cal and the ghost continued walking across the floor. “You see, Cal, what we’ve built here in Lexington is pretty special. Most folks in this state believe this is the best college basketball tradition ever and I tend to agree. Now, what you’ve got here is a situation, those Cards didn’t win any titles when I was here.” The ghost smiled and winked. “But just remember, we’ve been beating these guys for years.” In a flash, Calipari and the brown-suited ghost were standing on the sideline at Louisville’s Freedom Hall. It was a basketball game and judging from the short shorts and hairstyles, it was from the 80s. A skinny kid clad in blue stole the ball from the team in white, raced down the floor and then… boom. “See? That’s how we handle the Cardinals when they’re the defending national champion. Cal, you need to humble them…”  

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Tags: Kentucky Wildcats

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