Vaught’s note: Kentucky fan Mike Sims took exception to a recent story by Dennis Berman, the Wall Street Journal Marketplace Editor, about “Kentucky Basketball’s New Death Star” that took what Sims felt were unfair shots at UK and coach John Calipari. One also has to wonder about the Wall Street Journal even acknowledging that Berman is a “longtime Louisville fan” at the bottom of the story. Sims sent this response to Berman that he shared with me that I thought you would enjoy.
By MIKE SIMS
Most of BBN has come to the realization that jaded journalism such as yours are simply part of the package that is now UK basketball. It comes with the territory and is actually complimentary in nature. Everything from veiled negative innuendo (Pat Forde) to outright disdain of UK hoops (Dan Dakich and Pete Thamel) moves the needle, prompts responses such as the one your reading and perpetuates those ever so valuable clicks of the mouse. Congratulations.
In spite of your assertion otherwise, my memory is vivid and includes the past, present and the perpetual future….Elite 8 (2010)….Final Four (2011)….National Champions (2012)…NIT (2013)…best recruiting class in the history of college basketball (2014). Sure, I could go back further, but for the purposes of your agenda, it’s really all about the era of Cal.
In good conscience, can you name one fan base, athletic director or head coach not named Mike Krzyzewski that wouldn’t instantly trade places with Cal since his arrival in the Commonwealth? Why is it so difficult to accept that Cal has nurtured and developed a dynamic in Lexington that heretofore never existed? Anywhere. Period.
From day one, he has fully embraced the pageantry and rich history of the UK basketball program and has masterfully integrated his own brand of ingenuity and creativity like no one has ever done in college athletics. Are we to believe that Pitino would turn away the likes of Drake, LeBron and Jay Z. Further still, would he not readily welcome those players that Cal has arriving this fall or falls previous?
Sure, I’m disappointed about this year’s team missing out on the NCAA Tournament. What Kentucky fan would be thrilled with a nationally televised loss in the NIT to Bobby Mo? Although the cool factor and moment in the national spotlight for those kids in Pittsburgh and their mid-major program was awesome and undeniable. But that too speaks to what our program is capable of doing.
For you to characterize this year’s Kentucky team as “wilting beneath the expectations” while neglecting to mention the season ending injury to Nerlens Noel is utterly absurd and derelict on your part as a journalist. Maybe it’s your memory that requires calibration.
Where is it written that the UK fan base isn’t allowed to be disappointed? In the midst of that disappointment, why should UK fans be required to temper their enthusiasm and/or apologize for beginning to turn the page in eager anticipation of the recruiting equivalent of Halley’s comet that is scheduled to spectacularly crash in Lexington this fall?
The answer is simple. What we owe you or anyone else is this…nothing. No apologies for celebrity friends of the program, facilities that will make your jaw drop and certainly no apologies for why our program’s success exceeds that of your program. No apology for our disappointment in the 2013 season or for the unbridled enthusiasm for the ride that awaits in 2014.
Doesn’t mean I like it, but no one can legitimately argue that Louisville hasn’t had an outstanding year. I’m sure the Cards and their faithful enjoyed their success at Rupp as much as UK and BBN enjoyed its invasion of the Yum Center one year ago. Touché.
However, why suddenly has Rick Pitino been given any credible latitude to look down his nose and make snide remarks in the direction of Lexington? He alone has a stranglehold on developing teams with intensity and developing potential? Michael Kidd-Gilchrest and Darius Miller may take exception with that assertion.
Pitino has admitted he made a mistake by leaving Lexington for Boston. However, that decision is not the one that has aged him 20 years in the last five, forced him to exile his own son away from coaching alongside him in Louisville and decimated his credibility as a recruiter and as a man. Pitino can coach until he’s 100 and those miserable facts won’t change or be forgotten.
Yet somehow, because the planets have aligned in 2013 and his team advances beyond Cal’s for the first time…suddenly he’s qualified to impart his infinitive wisdom on Cal’s enlightened methodology of program building and program management? Please spare us the illegitimate insight.
Go ahead and commence with your arguments asserting Cal is dirty. We’ve heard them all. They only offer further evidence that it’s lonely at the top. If and when those accusations are ever proven during his tenure at Kentucky you can say you told us so. Between now and when that day arrives, we’ll be enjoying an unprecedented ride that’s sure to envied by all college basketball fans who don’t count themselves amongst the members of BBN.
So continue on in search of those clicks. I believe you know down deep where they reside in college hoops and why.