The Next Big Game!

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By LINDA SINCLAIR

My friend Christy Barger and I went to the Alumni Game together.  She got to our seats before I did.  TShe asked where the seat and row was when she was at the top of Rupp.  I was talking to a man too young to be wearing a blue coat and was telling him if he could wear a blue coat so could I, he agreed.  I want my BLUE COAT!  I asked him where the seats where, he said all the way down in front.  I said how far down, he said all the way down. I said where?  He said you see that concrete and the walkway, I said yes, he said that row of seats, the first row.

I thought I was going to give birth to the next 5 Five star recruits right there on the spot!  FIRST ROW, ALMOST UNDER THE BASKET, RUPP ARENA…I GOT DOWN ON MY KNEES WHEN I GOT DOWN THERE AND THANKED THE BASKETBALL GODS, BUDDHA, EVERY SUPREME BEING I COULD THINK OF, SAINTS, ANGELS, SERAPHIM’S, ARCHANGELS, COACH RUPP, NAISMITH and even my dearly departed.

Can you imagine?  It was only the Alumni Game, but holy moly, I, Linda Sinclair, little old lady from Lexington West was sitting in the first row at Rupp Arena.  OK, it was not center court, but boy oh boy.  It can’t get much better than this.  I have met my idols, Mickey Mantle and Ali.  I met Pete Rose, got kissed by the Lettermen, made Bill Medley blush, left Robic and Kenny Payne speechless.  I made Matt Jones night a couple years ago. I also made Mickey Mantle smile. BUT to have front row seats in Rupp Arena, to see AD, Josh ‘Never Keeps His Promises’ Harrellson, PPat, MKG, TJ, Ramon, Jared, John ‘The 23 Yr Old $80 Million Man’ Wall, etc up close and almost personal…someone pinch me please.

I think I have died and gone to heaven, my Blue Heaven!  Christy and I both looked at each other when I finally sat down and said the same thing at the same time, “Can you believe this?”  She was so nervous she could not hold her hand still to take a picture.  I was so elated I could not sit still in my seat…oh wait, that is me all the time!

I talked to MKG’s mother and thanked her for her son and for the fine young man he is.  She said she didn’t do it for anyone other than for him.  Well, I still thanked her any way, we need more like her, Mrs. Patterson, Mrs. Knight, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Bledsoe and all the wonderful mothers who raise wonderful children.

I wish I could calculate how much money was on that floor tonight but I do not think it was anything close to the amount of pride if you could have measured the pride in Cal’s face.  I know how proud I am of all my boys and I can only imagine what he must feel.  I doubt if there are any words at all to describe it.  Some of the pictures I got of him I think reflect what he was feeling.

This game and evening may be a great recruiting tool, but to me, it is a great memory to carry with me when I’m rockin’ in the rocking chair at the nursing home and can’t remember much else.

I didn’t have to worry about losing, no matter the outcome, it was a win/win situation. Yes, in my heart I know it was not a ‘real’ game but you will not be able to tell me that tomorrow, next week or the week after or the week after. It was John Wall, it was AD, it was TJ, it was MKG, it was Brandon Knight, it was Patrick Patterson, it was so much more than those names. It was my boys wearing blue and white, running up and down the court at Rupp Arena again, enjoying themselves, feeling the love amongst themselves, feeling the love of the BBN, seeing the pride on Cal’s face and knowing that they had once played in the Cathedral of College Basketball, knowing they were still welcomed, still loved and still brothers. Most were only there for one spectacular year, a few for more than that. Some were there before Cal and Cal has embraced them and made them feel a part of this program again. He has invited them back home on more than one occasion. Doesn’t that just bring tears to your eye, it does to mine and I hope I will not bore you with another story about last night again too soon. I sure hope some of y’all start posting again. I think I am all used up right now! LOL Isn’t there some kind of game coming up this weekend?

I don’t want to forget, I don’t want the ‘glow’ to wear off for a long time.  They mean so much to all of us. There were so many of them in one place at one time, so many in the Cathedral of Basketball entertaining the Emperor and his subjects. We think we will never have another group like we have in the present year and Cal brings in a new group and what do you know, we have more special young men. Some of these young men Cal never got to coach but can you imagine if he had?

I think Jay is having a bro affair with Cal now. I know he is having a love affair with Kentucky and the BBN. Cal is a genius, he invites Jay to his home and Jay is mesmerized by him and his personality. Cal works his magic gives him some good old Kentucky cooking and bourbon and Jay is a fan for life. He got to see the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Cal has the biggest heart of anyone. He truly cares; sometimes I wonder how he finds time to do all he does and still have time to breathe.

BTW, Got to meet and talk with Tod Lanter.  Very nice young man and he had a smile on his face from ear to ear and he was very pleasant and kind to this old woman.

Thank you Coach Cal and thank you Coach Rupp.

29 Responses to Guest post: From Lexington West to front row in Rupp Arena was like being in heaven

  • Jim Boyers says:

    I’m happy that you got to experience that game in a way you will remember forever.

    It couldn’t have happened to a nicer lady.

    • LindaS says:

      Thank you, Jim, I appreciate you kind comment and your respect for me. I feel the same about you, you big dude you!

  • I did not want your story to end ! So happy for such a deserving young Lady, Now, ” How Did You Get Those TICKETS ! “….

    • LindaS says:

      Larry I did not want the night to end, never. I just think I need to get a life sometime! I explained below how I got the tickets, I really don’t know!

  • TrueBlueJohn says:

    Linda,
    I know first hand that kind of a feeling. In summer of 1978, after the Cats had won #5, the World Invitational tournament was held in Rupp. The US team was made up of college all-stars plus Macy, Robey, Givens and Lee from UK. Joe Hall was the coach. I decided to get tickets for my wife and I. We made the 3 hour trip to Lexington, parked in a garage and crossed the catwalk over to the Hyatt lobby. Walking through the lobby, we passed the elevators just as they opened, and all of a sudden I was standing elbow to elbow with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, Joe Barry Carroll, Rick Robey, and several other All-Americans. I tend not to be too star-struck, but that one time I definitely was. After that experience, the game was kind of an anti-climax. We thumped the Russians.

    • Awesome Experience….The Stories THAT LOBBY could tell !

      • TrueBlueJohn says:

        Actually when I made that elbow to elbow comment, Their elbows were at about the level of my head.

        • LindaS says:

          My head would have been even with their belt buckles! Ran into Artis Gilmore one time at the Mall in Lexington West, literally, and my head was at it belt buckle. I kept looking up and didn’t think I was ever going to quit looking up.

  • Theresa Crow says:

    Oh my goodness, Linda, you gave me chills! I saw the images your words portrayed and it was a wondrous site! Thank you for sharing your experiences with the rest of us and capturing such special moments.

    • LindaS says:

      Theresa those are very kind words, I am so happy you were able to see what I saw. I had a gallery show one time, my first. I sat at the end of the wall and as people walked past my photos the comment I heard most is, I didn’t realize Lexington West, aka Louavall, looked like that. That is what I wanted, I wanted them to see it the way I do, the way I love it. I want to leave those images for my grandchildren and future generations because one day those structures may not be here any longer.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    Excellent read, Linda.

    • larryvaught says:

      Linda is Linda. They should have her back on the front row more

      • LindaS says:

        Larry, unless she is the Evil Twin Sister! And yes, they should have me back. Carry me into Rupp in a blue and white chariot drawn by 6 thoroughbreds with Praetorian Guards escorting me to my throne, I mean my seat.

    • LindaS says:

      Thank you Karen, always respect your comments!

  • LindaS says:

    LarryT I called before they went on sale to the public and it would not take the password. I called ticketmaster, ticket whoever was handling the tickets. I wanted the $50 tickets and they said they were sold out. DUH! She said the only tickets left were lower level upper section in sections 35-36-37-42-43-44-18-19-20-24-25-26-27…duh that is not what I wanted. I told here I wanted lower level, she said they were lower level and to take them or lose what she had for me. They were 37- Row DD I think. I told her how disappointed I was, I told her no one ever gets tickets to the games anymore and this was my only chance since Cal had been there. I did go one year with a friend. I had to pick her up in Ft. Knox drive to Lex. take her home and back home for me…a 6 hour trip! and the tickets were on the end about 3 rows from the top, but I was there! I did not open the email until the day of the game to print them. Didn’t even look to see where the seats where in Rupp, that is why I nearly had 5 five star recruits when I found out where they were. I don’t know if she felt sorry for me or if someone was looking out for me but I am not going to question it or argue about it. I am just thankful and feel very blessed!

  • Sarah White says:

    Linda, What a great story. I had fun vicariously enjoying your trip. You go, girl! I bet you had the time of your life. I always schedule a statewide meeting in TN at the same time this ends up happening. Then, I am mad at myself but can’t do anything about it. Your story made me smile and “be there” when I couldn’t! Thank you so much.

    • LindaS says:

      I missed last year because of work but I have retired. I am not going to miss another one! I don’t care if they have to carry me in on a stretcher, I will be there!

  • Larry Pup says:

    Linda S…true blue all the way…. great story. Linda, I’m glad you are on our side. You are a true fan. GO CATS!!!! BEAT LOUISVILLE!!!!!

    • LindaS says:

      Is there any other color, Larry Pup? Love my boys through thick and thin, have never given up, never not loved them. There was one a few years ago I did not like at all. Nepotism is a bad thing!

  • King Ghidora says:

    Way to go girl! That’s one you’ll remember a long, long time.

    I had a similar experience when I sat in the 4th row at Memorial Nov. 13, 1974 to see the Colonels play the New York Nets. I was within sweat slinging distance of Issel and Dampier among others. Dr. J, Artis Gilmore, etc.. It was the reigning champs (Nets) vs. the team that would be champs (KY). They went into double OT before the Colonels pulled it out. The score was 132-129. What a game that was! It’s still fresh in my memory a whole lot of years later.

    The Colonels rarely played in Lexington and people really didn’t support them a lot there for some reason. I sure did. I was thrilled to get to see two of my all time favorite Wildcats on the court with a couple of other HOF guys and the game couldn’t have been better.

    I’m glad you got your memory game. Congrats!

  • Judi Cole says:

    Linda, your retelling of your experience in the beloved confines of Rupp Arena with all the blood bloods was so emotional. I could picture you there in all your giddiness. Maybe next year, some of us other crazy fans can be there too!

    • LindaS says:

      Judi, you should go. It’s marvelous! Where else are you going to see so many UK greats in one place. Next year Boogie, Nerlens and Eric will be able to play.

  • LindaS says:

    King this was special, very special even though it was not a real game. All the games I went to at Memorial were special and the LSU Game with Pistol Pete, whom I can still see running down the court, still see the crowd cheering for him and standing to see him play, that was special. Seeing Jamaal play an exhibition game in Lexinton West and going one on one with Popeye Jones after the warmups, that was special. Seeing Bird, Hondo, and JoJo play and the rest of the Celtics here in an exhibition, but I think the most special one will have to be the night the Colonels won the Championship and I was sitting in the box with the wives as a guest of Ron Thomas’ wife. That was some game. Monday was a very special memory to see all my boys there and have witnessed Pistol Pete and Jamal. Should a woman have these memories or should she have memories of other things, girly things? There is a lot locked up in my head about my children, the things I did when I was younger, the things I have witnessed in my lifetime, but I think basketball brings a smile on my face when other things elude me.

    • King Ghidora says:

      Girl you have seen some basketball in your time. Wow. My wife got to see Pistol play in Cincinnati when they still had a pro team. She even managed to get an autographed basketball card. That thing is sitting in my safe with my Mickey Mantle autographed baseball (along with several other HOF players’ autographs on the same ball). Some day when I really need some cash I’ll sell all that stuff.

  • UKFMLY says:

    Very nice read Linda. I hope every UK fan gets to experience Rupp from the floor at some point. Whether it’s Big Blue Madness(I had row CC for the AD year) or one of these games( we sat two rows in front of Ashley Judd for the 96 vs 98 team game). there is nothing like being that close to the floor, the players and coaches. Glad you had an experience of a lifetime and got to share it with us all. Thank you.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

    GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

    CAT’S BY THREE IN THE UPSET OF THE YEAR

  • LindaS says:

    I think if I had sat up higher I would have actually seen more of the ‘game’! I was just so in awe of who was on the court and trying to keep up with the faces!

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    Last year, I had a ticket right behind the bench, so I got to watch John Wall coach his team (he didn’t play), and I was like you–I couldn’t believe I was so close and that the players could actually hear me cheer for them. Derek Anderson, one of my all-time favorite players, actually gave me one of his Victory Water t-shirts off his back when I showed him an empty Victory Water bottle.

    This year, my sister and I had tickets under the basket near where the players come in about 8 rows off the floor. Since I was on the aisle, I had the singular pleasure of talking to Tywanna and Buster Patterson for a brief moment. My only wish is that I had been a little more articulate about how much they mean to the Big Blue Nation. While Mrs. Patterson and I agreed that Once a Wildcat, Always A Wildcat, I truly believe that the BBN take in all the parents and siblings of our Wildcats into our Big Blue Family for life as well.

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