The Ultimate Kentucky Villain Will Coach In Rupp ArenaPosted by jstevrtc on October 4th, 2011
Kentucky basketball fans, get ready. He…is…coming.
Just under two weeks ago, several Kentucky outlets reported that another one of these NBA lockout-induced games was in the works, this time one that would pit a squad of former Kentucky players against a team comprised of guys considered “villains” of the UK program. We’re talking about players like Kemba Walker, who, along with the rest of Connecticut mates, bumped Kentucky from the Final Four last season. Tyler Hansbrough would certainly be a candidate for such a team; UK thought they had Hansbrough wrapped up during his recruitment in 2005, and his eventual signing with North Carolina seriously irked Kentucky fans. Then he came into Rupp Arena for an ESPN GameDay game in 2007 and put 14/11 on the Wildcats en route to an 86-77 win.
So, as far as the Team of Villains, you get the idea. We have to admit — it’s a darn good one. We were even inspired (cue shameless self-promotion) to have some fun and come up with other villain teams for other schools. But to actually stage a game like this in Kentucky, where passion for college hoops — and the ability to hold a basketball grudge — resides in the very bone marrow of its citizens, is a strong play.
The early list of possible villains, though, was not impressive. Walker and Hansbrough made sense. Joakim Noah was an obvious selection. But Shelvin Mack? Sure, he’s from Lexington, but he never did anything to anger the Big Blue Nation. Former Morehead State star (and all-time NCAA leading rebounder) Kenneth Faried was also mentioned. If you anything about Faried’s story, if you’ve ever seen him in an interview, or if you’ve ever met him, you know that it is impossible to dislike that guy. And, like Mack, Wildcat fans have nothing on him. Though it was a fantastic idea, it looked like the Team of Villains would consist of a few legitimate choices plus a collection of recently-departed college players who want to make a little cash and keep their skills somewhere within the same area code as adequate.
But come on, people. When you think about villains of the Kentucky program, there is one team that immediately springs to mind, chock-full of contenders. And on that team, there is one Ultimate Villain:
It’s happening. Christian Laettner once said he wouldn’t feel safe driving through Kentucky out of fear that someone might recognize him. On Tuesday, KentuckySportsRadio.com reported that Laettner will coach the Team of Villains against the team of Kentucky all-stars for a game whose date is yet to be determined. To take a line from the KSR piece — cue the Darth Vader music, indeed.
We have no details as far as compensation, but one can’t help but wonder what Laettner is getting paid for this. Assuming this actually happens, would the Kentucky fans in attendance — and they will PACK Rupp Arena for this, and may even camp out Midnight Madenss-style for the chance to attend — even care about the game being played? Two hours for UK fans to continuously yell whatever they want at Christian Laettner; that might be the most expensively-scalped ticket in Rupp Arena history. In terms of fan vitriol, what could compete? Yankees-Red Sox? Chelsea-Manchester United? A World Wrestling Federation cage match? Speaking of cages, will Laettner have to be constantly surrounded by state troopers, so as to deter hurlers of batteries, pennies, or rotten foodstuffs? If you think we’re going a little overboard with such speculation, please understand that there are sophomores currently attending both Duke and Kentucky who were not born when Laettner hit The Shot. The NCAA Tournament that follows the upcoming season is the 20th anniversary of Duke-Kentucky ’92. Nevertheless, at a couple of the campus bookstores and via a few online retailers, to this day you can still buy this T-shirt:
We now wonder what else they’ll come up with to make this even more interesting. Will Aminu Timberlake coach the Kentucky squad? Will there be metal detectors at the Rupp Arena doors? Will Laettner extend the ultimate middle finger at the Kentucky program by showing up in a brown suit (one of Adolph Rupp’s nicknames was The Man in the Brown Suit, given his preference for coaching attire)? Laettner wasn’t out of line so many years ago in saying that he’d be afraid to drive through Kentucky, but now he’s going to be voluntarily walking into Rupp Arena. At this point, we suppose anything is possible.