As the southern border-state to the greatest state in the Union, Kentucky gets a bad rap. "Besides producing bourbon, Cassius Clay and the criminally complex mind of Boyd Crowder," the haters will mockingly cluck, "what does Kentucky bring to the table? 10% of their population can't read. It ranks 47th out of 50 in people with Bachelor's degrees. It is a sieve on the federal government."
And to that I say, "Touché." However, this ignores Kentucky's primary export: basketball. After Ohio achieved history by sending four institutions to the Sweet Sixteen, Kentucky has one-upped its northern neighbor by making up half of the Final Four. (Some might even argue Cincinnati and Xavier should be included in Kentucky's column. Those people would hear no qualm from me.)
Sure, it's not like the state of Kentucky is producing these players, as Kentucky coach John Calipari recently said himself. And even though Kentucky hasn't won anything of significance this millennium, they still won a bunch of titles back in the day, so they're super-super important to the overall structure of college basketball.
In the other corner, it has been 25 years since Louisville were the last team standing. Now they're led by a serial adulterer who used to coach at -- GET THIS -- Kentucky!!! Gee willickers, aren't sports neat!?!?
You know what's quirky about this rivalry? These "people" actually loathe each other! Take this quaint anecdote from this week: an University of Kentucky fan and a Louisville fan got into a fight... at a dialysis center! Who says Kentucky is merely a co-opt of loosely affiliated tribes of hill-people? Would there be something like a DIALYSIS CENTER in Kentucky if Kentucky were the 43rd best state in health care?
That's hilarious coming from a guy who wears make-up and jetsets around the country in $3,000 suits on the backs of the same players he wants to keep around for three years. When I look around the Final Four, I don't see too many players who will "be going pro in something other than sports." No wonder Mark Emmert wants to keep the elite athletes around for two extra years. Who wouldn't want that guaranteed, free labor-pool for their TAX FREE billion dollar scheme? (You don't need the letters "pHD" next to your name like Emmert to connect the dots and dollar signs on that scheme.)
No, John Calipari gets it. While Jim Boheim cripples his kids with simplistic offenses and draconian gimmicks like zone defenses, Calipari coaches his kids and prepares them for their future. If only half of our nation's educators were as good as John Calipari is at his. I also have to tip my cap to him, because Calipari will never be a suitable taste for handkerchief-waiving media members who secretly despise the athletes they cover for a living. He also knows the NCAA won't be around much longer, which is probably why Emmert is trying to wring as much money as he can out of the players Calipari brings to Kentucky. That cashcow's time wanes in Emmert's lily prairie.
John Calipari is so good, he gets black players to come play in Adolph Rupp Arena. What was it ol 'Adolph told Tim Bassett, a black 6-8 forward from Georgia after Kentucky took an L in 1972?
"He said I didn’t belong in the Southeast Conference," and Bassett said, ‘We’ll get you back when you come to Lexington."
I'm sure the effigy Tim Bassett found of himself in Kentucky's gym when he returned later that season was all just a big misunderstanding. Kentucky fans have put together thesises in defense of Rupp. Allow me to offer these two sentences to our southern neighbors instead: "Adolph Rupp wouldn't sign black players until it became painfully evident he couldn't win without them. May his soul unrest in Hell for eternity."
So yeah, Kentucky, man! On top of basically fetishizing amateur basketball to the point their state's entire sense of self-worth is swaddled in it, they have super cheap prices on cigarettes. Life is so prosperous in Kentucky, I guess they have to give their government sponsored killing sticks away at blow-out prices!
I'm sure, tomorrow, the Commonwealth of Kentucky will receive very little attention from the national media. Whatever hit-pieces do arise, remember: it's not like any key piece in this game is from Kentucky anyway.