Russ not-so-diculous Smith… Man of The Year

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I’ve been a Louisville fan since growing up in the South End there in the late 1960’s. In those days Wes Unseld held down the post while Junior Bridgeman (oops wrong year… it was Butch Beard) drilled bombs that would now-a-days be NBA threes. I was also a Kentucky fan back then, as my limited scope at 11 only suggested that both teams were from my home State; and for me… that was good enough. I cried after the 1966 Finals when Kentucky lost to Texas Western. It was the first televised game I had ever seen (if you call a 13 inch B/W TV using rabbit ears at Rough River with fuzzy reception actually “watching”). I remember Louie Dampier and Pat Riley playing well, but Texas Western was loaded with quick athletic jumpers who cleaned nearly all of the glass. No matter how hard we played T-W was relentless and refused to reliquish an early lead. They shot 38 free throws and made 24, while were 11 for 13, because we could not stop (Calipari’s Don Haskins Dribble-Drive).

I could not then, nor do I now understand the hatred that exists between the fans of these two highly vaunted programs at (UK and UL).

Since those formative years I’ve remained a spectator and college basketball fan, eventually forsaking football, baseball, and other sports to concentrate on basketball, and found new love… in playing soccer. After college graduation one generally finds that career and other diversions tend to implore us not to spend so much discretionary time on sports. Somewhere along the way we should also gain a certain “adult” perspective that allows wins and losses to affect us only in “momentary” situations, without changing our personalities or affecting our priorities. I can remember once thinking (as a Cleveland Browns fan), “what if they win the Super Bowl this year?”

My internal answer came back solemnly… “well… you’ll have a hangover at work the next day. And then, it will all be over as quickly as it unfolded.” Of course, I never got to test my theory on Cleveland.

But, I’ve always known that the special UL/UK hate was limited to the fans, but not the players. The players, for the most part all respect one another and truly wish them well when not in direct opposition with one another. This last week, I was incensed after reading a Louisville fan blog, where a number of (so-called) humanoids berated Russ Smith’s game against their hated rival Kentucky. It is the epitome of classless, spineless, little man complex to even suggest that Russ Smith ISN’T the epitome of college basketball. I mean, holy sh&t, without Russ Smith, Louisville wouldn’t be on the map this year?

If I could have traveled through cyberspace I might have strangled someone. I wonder how much sweat these slugs must have lost watching Russ make a mistake or two? The nerve! And I hate to report that this kind of attitude is more commonplace than one could reasonably imagine. I witnessed Kentucky fans dropping  wholesale after every disappointment this year, creating more Calipari is crazy conspiracies than David Icke does aliens are living next door. Now they’ve had to order a new fleet of “bandwagons” to accommodate the repentant.

Of course, as we advance both in age and financially we become further removed from the “good ole days”, as our lives settle down we find time for watching sports again; if only to harass our friends over drinks, use travel games as party excuses, and/or make idiotic blog posts about our two-time First team All-American’s deficiencies. Albeit, we do all this with the same passion and nasty vigor of our youth, unless by then we’ve learned anything about real life. But then, sports chatter using facts and figures can also be fun, even when all you want to do is watch from the couch with family and friends and berate the commentator (I mean homer/hater Doug Gottfried).

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The last few years though, I have experienced a gnawing ache, which seems to grow as I follow my favorite teams on the internet on TV and in the news and through internet blogs. Admittedly, (and duly embarrassed) a couple of years ago I began to engage my acute sense of wit (my description of course), knowledge of the game and its history, and uniquely blatant in-your-face writing style to have some fun tormenting those brain-farts whom I felt were less informed about the game I love, or were just plain trolling ignoramus’ who apparently make a life out of denigrating other teams and their fans.

 I can honestly (no self-efficacy here, huh?) say that when it came to words-a-cuffing, I was/am/can be the Mohammed Ali of heavyweight lightning factoid-icule. For awhile I got a kick out of out belittling (some unknown to me poster) with a twisted sarcasm that only I seemed to be able to produce in imaginative volume. For awhile, I admit it was fun…

Yet, it was internally hollow, and I soon tired of out-lambasting some teenager or sock-puppet who could barely spout, “my team is better than yours”, or wax philosophical about some ridiculous straw man argument, whom I quickly leveled with a few light jabs and then an overhand hay-word-insult-maker, landing him on his back not even attempting to answer the keyboard beep.

I particularly loved sparring with more intelligent fans (unarmed with my modestly? over-the-top imaginative hater vocabulary); unfortunately they too sometimes lacked the Ali-dance-cleverword-shuffle or even the hack-a-fact, and I found myself mocking them before finally throwing a swift combination Ali would have marveled at. Canvas. 1-10. Boom. K.O. Next…

It was easy especially if you’d ever read Darrell Huff’s book, “How to Lie With Statistics”, the most widely read book on quantitative analysis ever written. And if you’ve happened to have read his sequel, “How to Tell if Someone is Cheating With Statistics”. then…BOOM! Tysonian.

Thankfully, those days are done-skeey and I lament remembering some of the verbal beatings I gave. Almost…

Occasionally I can and do get drawn into a minor word wrestle with a formidable foe (likely because they have said egregious ignorant things with uncommon pride and arrogance instead of understated objectivity) whom I sense cannot go the whole fifteen rounds… even though I recognize my latent memory is beginning to escape me .

I’ll set ’em up with some obscure factoid, wait for the bell of my chosen round… then simply wind-up-round-house them before they can type, “Google”. Trust me, I had to learn a plethora of one punch put-down lines in Louisville’s South End growing up and I remember most of them.

But, I swear it’s ONLY because I hate the hater…

 …and so I dose ’em with a dash of high-test-hate-o-line (then an throw uppercut to the super-ego with a lit match thrown in for good measure). BA-BOOM!

True is dat. But this a confession, even if it sounds arrogant, because I’m sorry… especially after what Louisville’s Russ Smith has recently taught me.

The following statement by arguably the best player in the nation over the last two years exemplifies the notion of

CHAMPION

 better than I or anyone could ever express with any brand of kindness or venom.

THIS IS WHAT EVERY COLLEGE FAN SHOULD LEARN TO RECITE.

 Russ-not-so-diculous is, as of now my ALL-TIME favorite college basketball player:

Can anyone find something NOT to love about this guy? I don't think so...
Can anyone find something NOT to love about this guy? I don’t think so…

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Those who play the game (just like MOST OF US likely remember when playing sports), respect one another; it’s the fans who are LAME. Stop it you friggin’ idiots! It is a game. You have to work tomorrow either way, so STFU… (I know, I know… sure… its the refs fault).

Because in the end sports are about sportsmanship (learning how to win, and how to lose), not winning… and especially not whining like your 7-year old. It’s about enjoying true athletic skill which the common man can only appreciate with a certain awe. It’s about competitive fight, 100% effort, and all without cheating; and learning to LOSE well as well as WIN well. Well?

That trait alone makes one Russ Smith a true hero, and a real man. Those who play the game respect one another; it’s us fans whose ignorance is more than made up for by our lack of intelligence.

I mean, it’s a shame that stupidity isn’t painful…

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Stop the hate, fans of whom-ever-in-the-rat-fk.

It is ONLY a game that you ONLY participate in vicariously. Your kids will still have to go to the Dentist tomorrow, so please STFU with the crybaby stuff.

And… unfortunately it is the fans of my beloved State of Kentucky (equally offensive UL and UK fans) who are among the worst offenders. Some of these Neanderthals have professional jobs and careers. I mean, I love Kentucky though I’ve lived in North Carolina just as long, and now Florida nearly as long.

I’m still a UK and UL fan to the bone… because…

There’s nothing like basketball in KENTUCKY. I just hope it stays that way without us making fools of ourselves any more than we have already… well, all of us but those young inexperienced players on our teams… Bye Russ! I’ll miss your style, your smile, and your helter-skelter…

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