Received this tweet today from a friend of mine:
Be sure to click on the link to see the picture, it is very cool. As hard as Kentucky fans have been on Christian Laettner (and justifiably so) for "The Stomp," this is one of several recent examples of his sense of humor, which I find refreshing, especially considering his truculence over the affair in the years immediately following the game.
This is just one more example of how, if we are fortunate, we learn not to take ourselves as seriously when time marches on, and that everyone in the known universe doesn't spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to throw monkey-wrenches into our lives. Even though there are plenty of t-shirts on sale keeping the Laettner-hate alive, with every act of wry humor like this, he is winning me over.
The funny thing is, "The Stomp" was recently on the Big Blue Nation's radar again when Larry Vaught reported that one of the officials for the 1992 Regional Final in Philadelphia, Tom Clark, commented on the whole "Laettner thing."
"No matter where I go … I have been to Florida over Easter and once my brother says, ‘Guess what game he once officiated?’ that’s all anybody wants to talk about. Some will talk about the shot, but the first thing almost always is the other Christian Laettner thing," said Clark.
"I will tell you if Timberlake gets up, starts a fight, then they are both pitched. Laettner did not have to throw a punch. He would have been pitched for initiating the situation. If he (Timberlake) starts any type confrontation, they both are pitched. But there was no interruption in the game. The whole thing took about five seconds. Nothing was done by either team. It just happened and was not a game interruptor."
It's sort of funny watching Clark tap dance around the issue. but I do think he's right about one thing -- if Timberlake had bounced up off the floor fighting mad and come after Laettner, punch or no, I think it's likely Laettner would have gotten the hook. As it was, Timberlake's lighthearted treatment of the matter gave the officials an excuse not to throw Laettner out, one I am sure they are all thankful for.
Let's be honest -- if Laettner gets thrown out, that's all anyone remembers about this game, whether UK went on to win or Duke held on for the victory. Only because Laettner managed to stay in the game was this
a the classic for the ages, and part of the game's mystique is Laettner's inexplicable "Stomp," and the fact that in almost any other game at any time I can remember, he would have been tossed for that incident.
20 years later, "The Stomp" is still the first thing on everybody's lips when it comes to that game, and Laetter is mocking his own behavior with Anthony Davis. I find it almost endearing. I get to hold on to all my outrage about that incident, yet at the same time, laugh about it. The best of both worlds.
Nobody could make this up. Just another example of how real life can be stranger than anyone's imagination.