John Clay: If you’ve shut off this Kentucky team for using its voice, you’re missing out on out
Kentucky knelt, then rolled. The Cats ripped Florida 76-58 in Gainesville. It was their third straight win. It was their best win of the season. They shot 55.8 percent from the flooring. They dealt a sterling 18 helps. They were stabilized. 8 players scored. No one scored more than 13 points. They were 6-for-13 from three-point range, 12-for-13 from the nasty line.
Yet a piece of Big Blue Nation picked to neglect the victory. Or so it stated. After the “Kentucky Basketball” social networks account published an image of the team kneeling for the national anthem, some fans claimed to have quickly turned their televisions off. They were offended, they stated. They were finished with this team, they said. Stay with sports, they stated.
These Felines are not sticking to sports, nor need to they. Offered the occasions of the past week, it’s no surprise that Kentucky basketball group wished to make a statement Saturday. It’s the exact same group that made the preseason Black Lives Matter video. It’s the same group that uses a “unity” patch on its uniform. It’s a team of young guys, mostly Black males, paying attention to what is going on worldwide, who want to be more than just basketball gamers. That’s a worthy goal.
It’s a common one, also. John Calipari stated that on the journey to Gainesville, his group had actually gone over the topics of the day, decided on how best to use its voice, then brought the idea to the head coach. He asked why. They explained why. The players asked the coaches to join them. So the coaches did.
” There’s a lot of things that goes on every day we knelt for,” Keion Brooks, part of a tribunal of team leaders along with Olivier Sarr and Davion Mintz. “( What occurred at) the Capitol had a part to play in it, however there are a lot of things that we don’t see that are undesirable.”
The gamers weren’t opposing the nationwide anthem. They were making a statement throughout the national anthem. It was a declaration of both togetherness and resistance about the issues that are dividing the nation, problems that led us to witnessing something that took place at our own Capitol on Wednesday that we never ever thought we would see. But we did.
” I think what we did speaks for itself,” Mintz stated on Saturday.
So did their efficiency on the floor. UK stopped working to reach double-digit helps in 5 of its previous nine games. It was credited with 18 Saturday. Sharing is caring. Much better passes made for much better shots. Much better shots made for a much better shooting percentage. Keep in mind, this is the very same group that had not a single help in the second half of its Nov. 29 loss to Richmond.
Oh, however it’s not the very same team. Keion Brooks is back. A leg injury triggered the sophomore to miss out on the season’s first nine games. He celebrated his return with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 25 minutes. Fact is, Brooks had actually been contributing all along. Throughout that 1-6 start, he had a message for his young teammates: “Relax down, we’re going to be OKAY.”
Said Mintz: “I said previously, ‘Stay client with us. Let us figure things out.’ We understood it would all come together.”
Tuesday brings a huge test. Alabama check outs Rupp Arena. The Tide is rolling. Nate Oats club is 4-0 in the SEC. Bama beat No. 7 Tennessee 71-63 in Knoxville last week. It outlasted archrival Auburn at Auburn 94-90 on Saturday. The school would love absolutely nothing much better than to beat Ohio State for the nationwide football championship on Monday, then knock off Kentucky in basketball on Tuesday.
” That’s going to be tough video game for us,” Calipari said Saturday. “However again, let’s enjoy this. Let’s take pleasure in these kids. Let’s enjoy their development.”
Let’s enjoy their development on and off the court. Too bad some in the (former?) fan base aren’t staying to see it. They’re missing out on something worth watching.