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Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Even if NBA Money Awaits

April 16, 2012
Kentucky Clebration

UPDATE: The UK press conference where the players will make their announcement has been moved to 7 pm. The press conference will be streamed live on wkyt.com and on NewsRadio 630 WLAP and wlap.com.

Well, apparently at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon one of the greatest rosters to ever don Kentucky basketball uniforms will officially call it quits. At a press conference scheduled for that time, all five of Kentucky’s underclassmen will declare their intentions regarding entry into the 2012 NBA Draft. Smart money is on all five opting to head to the professional ranks next season.

Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv in New York Tweeted on Monday morning that three Wildcats – Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones  and Marcus Teague were definitely headed to the NBA (leading to an almost Twitterwide chorus of “no kidding”). But there is absolutely still talk about whether the remaining two underclassmen from Kentucky’s championship run will make the jump.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist said unequivocally earlier in the season that he’d be back for year two before being linked to reports during the NCAA Regional in Atlanta that he’d declare for the Draft – reports that he said were untrue.

There are still some questions about Lamb’s readiness for the NBA. Will he have to play point guard at the next level? If so is he ready? Does he have the range to play shooting guard in the NBA? I know how well he’s shot the ball for Kentucky, but most of his threes have come from right on or very near the line. He’s not a guy who drops back to Jimmer Fredette (or Tayshaun Prince) range and fires. Plus at 6-4 (which means he could measure as low as 6-2 pre-Draft) he could be a little undersized for the wing. That said I am the world’s worst judge of NBA ability, so he could be an All-Star.

It’s hard to see such a great collection of players – and by all accounts people – go their separate ways. I know Kentucky once again has the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class coming in, but there was something special about this group, about the way they played. No matter how talented the next crop is and how many of the right things they say on their way in, they will be hard-pressed to recreate the kind of unwaveringly unselfish play that Cats fans were treated to this past season.

The real shame is that the phony national “outrage” over the one-and-done players has kept some from appreciating how truly special this team was and how much fun they were to watch play. Their loss I guess. (By the way, does anybody notice how nobody is pointing out that North Carolina had as many sophomores declare for the Draft as Kentucky is likely to? I brought it up with a North Carolina fan friend of mine and he assured me that Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes were NOTHING like the Kentucky sophomores. I guess the best answer to that would have been, “yeah, they don’t have a National Championship ring.”)

I’m not sure what people expect these guys to do. During the season, detractors all howled that none of these guys are TRUE students; that they don’t belong in school. And then when the players try to leave school and pursue their dreams of professional careers, they get blasted for that too.

Honestly, I’d be more upset with Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist if they DIDN’T go the NBA. Both are in line to make considerable money next year as both are projected to go in the Top 5, including Davis at number one overall. Dick Gabriel made a good point on Big Blue Insider on NewsRadio WLAP Monday night that it’s ok to want to be a kid and that once you go to the NBA, you aren’t a kid anymore. The world and the reason you play the game changes forever. But it’s REALLY hard to get somebody to hand you a check for millions of dollars in the real world and I can’t imagine them risking injuries and potentially losing out on the opportunity.

So let’s raise a glass to one of the most enjoyable teams I’ve ever seen play here – one I was proud to cheer for  and thrilled to see win the NCAA Championship. And let’s wish them well wherever they play next year, and maybe hope just a little that one or two of them surprise us and give us another year.

Big Blue Coach

Speaking of fake national outrage, Gabe has a great piece on bigblueinsider.com about how the one-and-done debate has kept media and fans from giving John Calipari his due as a basketball coach. Check it out.

The Anti-Flopping Movement Finds Its King

A while back a comment by Doris Burke during an NBA game sent me into a blind writing rage where I outlined my simple plan to end flopping in basketball. Well, the anti-flopping movement may have found its leader during an NBA broadcast last night when Jeff Van Gundy flew into a blind broadcast rage after the Miami Heat’s James Jones embellished a foul against the New York Knicks.

And if Van Gundy is the Anti-Flopping Movement’s King, then we’ll name Arsene Wenger, coach of Arsenal in the Barclay’s Premier League the director of soccer operations for his call for flopping players to be suspended.

Trophy Trouble

As much as the recent UK National Championship Trophy Bus/Train Tour proved that folks love seeing trophies, it turns out Cats fans should just be glad that the thing came home safely. Not all trophies have been so lucky.

The latest trophy to fall victim to some rough handling is Alabama’s Coach’s Trophy from this year’s BCS National Championship Game. The crystal football that is by far the most iconic (and increasingly unfortunately removable) part of the trophy was shattered when the father of an Alabama football player bumped it.

It’s the second crystal football to meet an untimely demise, following the topper for Florida’s 2006 National Championship trophy. That one was bumped and broken in 2008 by then-recruit Orson Charles (who went on to play at Georgia).

The latest incident begs the question: why not keep these things in some kind of case.

It could always be worse. Sergio Ramos of Spanish soccer powerhouse Real Madrid dropped the Copa del Rey trophy off the top of the bus the team was riding on during a celebration of the team’s win. The bus then ran the trophy over.

Maybe all trophies need that guy who goes around with the Stanley Cup to keep them safe.

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