Hate seems to be the growing theme these days. Whether it come from hacks named Bill Mayer (KUSports.com) or Frank Therber (Indiana Daily Student) or elsewhere, the Kentucky basketball program is unwillingly playing the part of punching bag to those who would like to consider themselves to be sportswriters with a legitimate and learned opinion.
I'm just a regular guy who possesses no vast knowledge of the history books. I've not researched every last detail, good or bad. What I do know is that at certain points in its history, the Kentucky basketball program has made its mistakes. As one who bleeds blue, does it pain me to find acceptance in that fact? Sure it does. Can I wish it away or blindfold myself against it? No. It's there and it will always be there. Therefore, anyone choosing to call out the Kentucky basketball program for its past transgressions is certainly free to do so. Hey, it's a free country. However, to do so while at the same time turning a blind eye to a certain other programs own past transgressions and even claiming that programs excellence over the Kentucky basketball program is the very definition of hypocrisy.
Now let's talk about matters if integrity. Webster's Dictionary defines integrity as a "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values".
I will not argue the basketball knowledge of one Bob Knight. I will not argue his 901 career victories. I will not argue his three national championships. I will not argue that he is the last coach to lead a program through an entire season undefeated. Those are tremendous acheivements indeed and are acheivements which should always be held in high esteem. As for the man himself, Bob Knight has proven, on a great many occasions, to be easily one of the most asinine figures in all of sports history. The man has built a track record miles and miles long of some of the most pathetic displays of absolutely horrendous behavior for a grown man both on and off the sidelines. For the Cliff's Notes version of this side of the great coach, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Knight and look for the heading "Controversies".
To be fair, you may also visit Wikipedia's page on John Calipari at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Calipari and once again look for the heading "Controversies".
I said earlier in this article that I am just a regular guy who possesses no vast knowledge of the history books or every last detail. On that same note, I cannot tell you that John Calipari is a Saint. I cannot tell you that he has never made mistakes within his profession or that he has not violated some NCAA rule or policy along the way. What I do feel pretty certain of, in fact, is that all successful persons in any profession at any level will bend the rules or look for loopholes in the policies when they can in order to give themselves an edge over the competition. So John Calipari most assuredly is not the only college basketball coach who would do such nor would he be the last. Does that make it right? No. But, that's life. So long as "bend" doesn't evolve into "break".
For anyone to use Bob Knight as an example of excellence based solely on his victories and awards is to be negligent of the facts of his otherwise abrasive and embarrasingly ugly character. Unless you consider tossing chairs and launching profanity filled tirades at officials, media, players, administrators and others to be acts adhering to a code of especially moral or artisitic values. Not to mention the acts of shoving, slapping, punching or choking the players whom you are employed to teach the game of basketball to.
To John Calipari's credit and to the credit of his young team, hate appears to have no ill effects. In fact, it may even be one of the key driving forces behind their success this season. Of course, possessing an enormous wealth of talent doesn't hurt. But, this team continues to face the torches and the pitchforks with an incredible resilience. Like a monstrous Ogre with no fear whatsoever of the oncoming armies, they stand tall and shout, "Get off my land!"
Perhaps hate towards our beloved Wildcats is something to celebrate. Perhaps it is indeed a badge of honor we should all proudly wear. As Yoda once said, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." There sure are a lot of suffering souls in the college basketball world right now. And that's just fine by me. I'm prepared to enjoy the ride as far as it takes us.
GO BIG BLUE!