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Views from a Divided House: Why Yesterday's Victory Meant So Much

Maggie Davis12/30/17

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Article written by:On3 imageMaggie Davis

@MaggieDavisKSR

UK fans are taught a few things upon entering this world. As a baby, you’re put in a little, blue onesie with matching little, blue socks. When you’re old enough to attend your first game in Rupp Arena, you’ll stay after to watch Coach Cal’s post-game radio interview and maybe, if you’re lucky, even get your basketball signed. Soon enough, you’ll hear about The Shot, and you’ll learn why you “still” hate Christian Laettner, even if you weren’t yet alive when he so maliciously stomped on the chest of Aminu Timberlake. And while some of these emotions, these rituals and these traditions must be taught, others are simply understood. The rivalry with the University of Louisville is one such thing. And although “true blue” Kentucky fans are practically born knowing we always boo the guys who show up in red and black, it’s not always that easy for some of us. Because some of us live with one of those guys. [caption id="attachment_234384" align="aligncenter" width="656"] My dad and I at a UK-UofL game in Rupp Arena (probably the last time we watched the game in the same room).[/caption] So there it is. That’s my big secret I’ve been keeping from you all. My dad, the poor guy, is a UofL fan. I can’t really blame him. He grew up in the city and attended the University of Louisville — it’s all he’s ever known. The real problems here are with my mom, who, for some reason, went and married a Louisville fan despite bleeding blue her entire life. And while she may have lost the battle, she won the war, because both of her daughters have been raised as diehard Kentucky fans. So while I have gone to a Coach Cal radio show, I have cheered on the Cats from the rafters of Rupp Arena, and I have been taught to hate Christian Laettner, it’s all been a little different. Because I’ve always come home to a divided household. But yesterday was different. While it’s always been more than “just a game” due to my own overly-competitive nature and my red-wearing father, the buildup to yesterday’s game was unlike anything these two storied fan bases have ever experienced before. The last nine years were the best the rivalry has ever seen. From strictly a basketball point-of-view, the two teams always seemed to be fairly-evenly matched. With two legendary coaches and a victory margin that never exceeded nine points, the games were always exhilarating. Then you can add in the rest. There was the scuffle between Eric Bledsoe and Reginald Delk, leading to Coach Cal’s warning to Delk: Bledsoe will “kick your ass after the game… you messed with the wrong guy.” There was DeMarcus Cousin’s elbow, Anthony Davis’ “This is my town,” Aaron Harrison’s legendary shot, Tyler Ulis’ bleeding eye… the list goes on and on. But it wasn’t just our love for Kentucky that made this game and this rivalry so much fun every year. It was also how easy it was to hate Louisville thanks, in particular, to one guy: Rick Pitino. Because for everything Calipari did to make us love him, there was Rick Pitino skipping the post-game press conference. There was a “Karen Sypher” chant from the student section. There was a middle finger distinctly held in the air during what turned out to be Pitino’s last time in his former stomping grounds. It was so easy — and so fun - to hate Louisville. The past six months have been a whirlwind. From the day the strippers scandal broke, the rivalry changed. Kentucky fans watched in awe as the University of Louisville crumbled before our very eyes. We let our mouths hang open in shock as Katina Powell detailed her time with the program; we rolled our eyes when Pitino denied it all. We waited to see the repercussions, and then we rolled our eyes again when there were none. We laughed as the FBI investigation broke, because of course it happened at UofL. We saw the fall of two of the most important men at that university. And while the rest of the BBN was watching from afar, I watched it all unfold in my very household. I sat by and watched as my own father had to come to terms with the fact that his coach, his athletic director, his school did all of this. Of course, it was a touchy subject. In fact, my dad and I didn’t sit down and have a real, honest conversation about the state of his program until several weeks after the departure of Pitino and Jurich. I’m not sure how to describe the result of the conversation, because I don’t think either of us left with a changed mind or a new perspective. I still think Pitino knew about the extracurricular activities of his team, and he still maintains that Tom Jurich never should have been fired. What can I say? He is a Louisville fan. And after everything — after the Italian restaurant, the strippers, the $100,000 and the FBI - he still really wanted to beat UK. And I still really wanted to beat Louisville. KSR has given me some of my favorite moments over the past year and a half. Working John Calipari’s Fantasy Camp, attending the football women’s clinic, covering countless press conferences and getting to know and work with guys I’ve listened to on the radio and read on the website for years immediately come to my mind as memorable moments. But nothing will ever come close to covering yesterday’s dominating victory over the Cardinals. So thank you, to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PJ Washington and the rest of the Cats. Thank you for coming out and crushing Louisville and allowing me to go home as a winner. Thank you to John Calipari for always attending post-game press conferences and for always leaving with his head — not his middle finger — held high. Thank you to Kentucky Sports Radio, for giving me the opportunity to play a new role in this rivalry - one where I couldn’t officially wear blue or audibly cheer from my seat on press row, but could instead voice my opinions and reactions on a such a fun platform. But most of all, thank you to my dad. Thank you for reading my articles on this website, even though they’re basically all about a team you will never root for. Thank you for teaching me how to love sports. And, most importantly, thank you for forgiving me for loving a team other than your own. But I’m still really glad we destroyed you yesterday. Go Cats.

@MaggieDavisKSR

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2022-08-16