It is hard to believe it is already here. I vaguely remember the day back in the summer when the UK basketball schedule was released. Fans of other schools might look first for their conference schedule. Others might look for their pre-conference tournaments and possible destination games. Not in Kentucky. Not in the homes who fly blue and white flags outside their house or those who proudly fly the black and red. Not in the small towns in eastern Kentucky where they remember the Fiddlin’ Five or in those places who hold Dunkenstein on an incredible pedestal. Not in Muhlenberg county, where Patrick Sparks’ legend is as strong as his free throws were that day in Freedom hall. Not on the metropolitan streets of Louisville , where cards fans believe Edgar Sosa’s shot would have gone in the next 20 times he would have taken that shot too.
No, those of us who walk barefooted in the Bluegrass each spring only look for ONE game. Some call it the ‘Dream Game’ or “The War on I-64’ or ‘The Battle in the Bluegrass’. One thing Kentucky natives and UK and U of L alumni have never called it is ‘boring’. The names change over the years, but the passion never leaves. From Denny and Joe B. to Rick and Cal, they may not admit it before game time, but they will tell you after the dust settles how important it is to win.
No matter the talent each team boasts, Kentuckians know that for one day in the winter, all things will be equal. No matter what floor the teams play on or what color the schools wear, the blue and red will battle until the final buzzer. No matter where your allegiance falls, when the teams take the floor for the first time, cold chills will run up and down your body and you will feel like it is the first time the two teams have ever played. You forget about all of the history and focus intensely on the task at hand, beating the snot out of anyone wearing the opposite colors.
For anyone who has never lived here or experienced Kentucky-Louisville basketball, it is simply a game played once a year. For those of us who live and breathe college basketball in the Commonwealth, we know it is much more. It is bragging rights for 364 ½ days out of the year. It is being able to look at your opponents colors for that period of time without having your blood pressure rise. It is not having to hear anything from acquaintances that happen to cheer for the other team. It is that feeling in your gut when your team loses and it is that joy you feel when your team runs off the court poppin’ their jerseys. It is not just a game played once a year, it is a game played for 365 days a year.
It is love, it is hate, it is tradition, and it is history. It is everything good and bad about the state of Kentucky and I love it. It is Kentucky-Louisville and if you don’t get it, we don’t care. C! A! T! S!