Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reacquaintance with Destiny

I can't wait to go back to school. Only time in my life I've ever said that. Besides the obligatory paranoia of feeling cooped up whenever I'm in Louisville, I just need to be around Lexington people. That city's the kinda place where you drop something and as someone bends down to help you pick it up, you can start and finish an entire dissertation on the state of college basketball with this total stranger by the time you've been handed back whatever you dropped. The people are so insanely passionate about the sport in a way that can't be said about other large groups I've been around. And I don't believe there are other people like that at such an inordinate level besides like certain foreign countries with their soccer teams. And UK fans can be painted in whatever light anyone wants to put them in, but I just really enjoy being around people who genuinely cared and are dedicated to something. Anything, really. It's the simplest human emotion, yet one that way too many people guards themselves from. Unconditional dedication. Lexington folk were brought up living for and singularly representing for these young men in the blue and white jerseys. And not dirty Duke blue. Kentucky blue. Like the grass. Except the jerseys are ... actually blue looking.

And you know what's got me super psyched even more than I have been since just days after we were booted from the NIT and hired our grand Poo-bah of a coach? John Wall dunking all over Jerry Stackhouse.

While it's true that he's yet to even don a UK uniform or drive into the teeth of a collegiate defense strictly aimed at halting him, I feel comfortable saying right now that Wall is the best player in college basketball. I hold no ill feeling about declaring it. I'm confident that every single game this season that he plays will back that up. Time and time again you will see him cramming over guys twice his size, getting into the paint with ease, improving his jump shot, making perfect passing decisions, and just overtly dominating in a system that plays off all of his immense strengths. If you don't believe me, I don't care. Cuz you're the one who's going to be wrong.

To me it's like last year right when the NBA season started up, I bet a dude $35 on the championship. Lakers vs. the field. Guess who I chose. And I'm stingy with money, too. Only other thing I've ever for real bet on was poker. Cuz I'm a fiend at poker. But that's beside the point. All I'm saying is that John Wall will destroy every defender in his path this year and play off of guys that are also ridiculously talented. We're not losing more than 5 games next year. It's just not happening. I'm not guaranteeing a championship like I did with the Lake Show or like how a lot of the UK faithful are with this squad, but I'm just telling you not to bet against it. Kentucky fans are confident for a reason. It's infectious. When I stepped foot on campus and walk the same paths that Dan Issel, Jamal Mashburn, Tony Delk, Tayshaun Prince, and Chuck Hayes walked, I was immediately adopted into the culture. I've been a UK supporter all my life, but now I actually am the University of Kentucky. I never felt like there was ever an actual reason to take pride in any of my primary education schools. But when I'm on campus, I'm a part of a unified goal with like-minded individuals who truly and genuine care. It's special and just simply one of those things you have to experience to understand.

Our fan base, when inspired, is the best there is in sports. Even in a mentally grating season like last year's, I wish everyone could have felt how the building shook during our defining home game against Florida. Summoning our entire history into defending three free throws by a guy who had shot 11-for-12 on the night, we succeeded. Three times. The difference is that, this year, we'll have the players and a coach who could succeed regardless of us. We're just the intimidating and overflowing icing on the cake that will throw this party over the hump. I mean, I'm getting a great education in the insane field of engineering to set up the rest of my life and all ... but let's not kid ourselves. This joint is about basketball. The tag line is undeniably for real this season. "Respect our past. Fear our future."

... but do take my word for it.

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