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The NBA Draft = The Summer Kentucky Game
June 27, 2012KentuckySports.co
On the surface, the NBA Draft shouldn't be anything to get excited about. Who wants to see a bunch of kids younger than you receive their multi-million dollar meal tickets in an over-hyped ceremony, making your life seem even more significant than you already feel everyday at your boring, underpaid office job? Who wants to see David Stern and his cold, monotone voice mispronounce your favorite team's future superstar player's name? There is plenty that is ridiculous and a little bit disgusting about the NBA Draft. But I must admit, I can't help but love it. Why? Because I'm a Kentucky fan.
It's been over two months since the NCAA tournament wrapped up in New Orleans, and by this time of the year, I am already really missing college basketball. The NBA Draft gives me the closest thing I'll be able to get for another four month. For Kentucky fans, it's like a summer Wildcats game in Rupp Arena (with six players likely to be drafted, I think that gives us home court advantage). When I watch the Draft, I am reliving all the glory of the season that has led up to it. I cheer when the Kentucky players get called and I boo when players from teams I don't like get called. For example, when Anthony Davis gets called at #1 tomorrow night, I'm going to lose it. I know it's not a surprise, but it's going to feel like he's blocking that North Carolina last-second shot again. When Thomas Robinson gets called, I'll probably mutter things that aren't very nice. For me, and for a lot of other Kentucky fans, it's not even about the NBA; I am not even a huge fan of the League. For me, the NBA Draft is more about celebrating the end of great college basketball season with, well, another Kentucky victory.
This is why Kentucky fans get so into this silly ceremony, particularly since the arrival of John Calipari. Calipari recruits the one-and dones, and you can criticize that all you want, but it gets Kentucky a Draft monopoly and a solid reason to get together at the end of June wearing our blue. We follow mock drafts all season long like it's part of a player's stat line, even if it's just the first week of the season. We pick our favorite NBA teams based on which ones can amass the most former Wildcats. We understand that these players will represent Kentucky wherever they go in the professional careers and we take a lot of pride in that. It's a phenomenon particularly unique to Kentucky fans; no other teams get to experience the excitement of seeing so many of their players picked in the Draft. For example, there aren't a lot of Louisville players who get drafted. Just a few every once in a while. They can't watch the Draft and cheer like it's a game, but I guess they can boo at all the Kentucky players if that makes them feel better.
So tomorrow night, I'll be in BW3s, beer in hand, cheering on Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Darius Miller, Doron Lamb, and Marquis Teague as I watch their dreams come true. After all, it will determine which teams I root for next year in the NBA. Maybe David Stern should just add another franchise where the former Kentucky players get automatically drafted. Maybe then I'd like the NBA Season half as much as I do the Draft.
If I don't see any 3-goggles thrown, I'll be sorely disappointed.