Kentucky v. Louisville: 5 Villains Who Changed the History of the Rivalry
No rivalry in college basketball is more vicious and exciting than the rivalry between the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals. This is an important game not just for rankings, but it also decides which side can brag for the next year.
This Saturday will be the 45th time the two teams have played each other since the first game in 1913. Kentucky leads the all-time series 30-14.
Every rivalry has villains: players, coaches or even fans who take the game to an entirely different level. Whether it is by physical play, calling people names or becoming a turncoat—these are the things that make the Kentucky vs. Louisville rivalry the best in the land.
Let's take a look of the best villains of the Kentucky vs. Louisville rivalry.
Honorable Mention Villains
Here are some villains who weren't as dastardly as others. But it doesn't mean they aren't hated by at least one of the fanbases.
The 71-year-old Louisville fan who punched the Kentucky fan
Before Louisville and Kentucky played in last season's Final Four, a 71-year-old man punched a 68-year-old man in a dialysis clinic. The story went national and showed everyone just how intense this rivalry is in the state of Kentucky.
Joe B. Hall and/or Denny Crum
In 1983 Hall and Crum poked some verbal jabs at each other.
Chapman embarrassed Louisville in Freedom Hall his freshman year, scoring 26 points and dunking all over the place.
Rick Pitino broke that rule when he took the Louisville head coaching job in 2001.
Pitino was the coach of the Kentucky Wildcats from 1989 to 1997, leading them to three Final Fours and a national championship in 1996. He had turned Kentucky basketball into a dynasty.
That is why it was such a choke to UK fans when he left to take over the Boston Celtics.
But Pitino could not reach the same success in Boston as he did at Kentucky and left after three-and-a-half years.
That's when he broke the rules and took the Louisville job.
Pitino said this in a news conference after taking the job of his former rival via Eric Crawford of the Courier-Journal:
I will always love UK and my players. It's always going to be great in my heart. We went to three Final Fours and won a national championship. I left them with an assistant coach who today is one of the great coaches in the game and one of the finest people I've ever met.
"I'll always root for them and always be behind them," Pitino added. "But now is my time to lead the Cardinals back to prominence."
The fact that Pitino left Kentucky at its highest point to return to college basketball as the head coach of its nemesis makes him the biggest villain of this heated rivalry.
Before DeMarcus Cousins was a villain in the NBA he was detested by Louisville Cardinals fans.
In Cousins' only game against Louisville, he decided an elbow to the face of Louisville forward Jared Swopshire would be a good idea in a game that was already heated.
Both Cousins and Swopshire were wrestling on the floor for the ball when Cousins went WWE on Swopshire's face. After the refs watched the video for several minutes, they allowed him to continue playing.
Cousins went on to have 18 points and 18 rebounds in the 71-62 Wildcats win in Rupp Arena.
"You see DeMarcus gets fouled hard, and he gets up and he's ready to fight," Cousins' teammate John Wall told Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com after the game. "People are going to start judging him not just by how he plays, but by how he handles himself on the court."
If you asked a Louisville fan who was the biggest bully, Cousins would be the answer. I can promise you that every time Cousins gets in trouble in the NBA, a Louisville fan smiles.
Louisville came into Freedom Hall on January 4, 2009 ranked 18th in the country, while Kentucky was unranked.
The Cardinals led most of the game, but the Wildcats kept it close. Louisville led by as much as 10 points in the second half, and then Kentucky tied the score at 71 with 23 seconds left.
Junior guard Edgar Sosa shot a deep three with less than five seconds left to win the game, 74-71.
Sosa then told Rick Bozich of the Courier-Journal later in 2009 that Kentucky fans are "disrespectful."
Sosa is not well liked by many Kentucky fans, although he did win some hearts after playing for John Calipari for the Dominican National Team in 2011.
Patrick Sparks, who grew up in Central City, Ky., took advantage of playing in his first Louisville vs. Kentucky game. Sparks had transferred from Western Kentucky University in 2003 to join the Kentucky Wildcats as a junior.
Louisville and Kentucky both came in to the game ranked in the Top 25. The Cardinals led most of the game at Freedom Hall, heading into halftime up 32-16.
Sparks, who scored 25 points in the game, made five threes in the comeback, bringing the Wildcats within one point with less than five seconds left in the game.
Kentucky had the ball under its basket. Sparks passed the ball to Kelenna Azubuike, who then passed it back to Sparks in the corner. Sparks heaved a desperation three as the time went out in the game but was fouled by Louisville's Ellis Myles.
Sparks won the game on the free-throw line. Final score: 60-58.
Now the issue that Louisville fans have is that before passing the ball in bounds, Sparks took several steps. Then when he caught the ball in the corner he took several more steps before shooting the ball.
He wasn't called for traveling.
This is a moment that Louisville fans do not like to talk about, but when they do it becomes emotional.
John Calipari is slowly becoming a very disliked person amongst Louisville fans. He coached at another Louisville rival Memphis before coming to Kentucky, where Louisville fans became familiar with him and his coaching style.
Since coming to Kentucky, Calipari has not been afraid to take jabs at Louisville. Last year he refused to mention Louisville as an in-state rivalry, which caused a "Louisville doesn't exist" movement spawned by shirts made by Oneness287.com.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino then fired back at Calipari's statements with his own punch, telling CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman: "Four things I've learned in my 59 years about people. I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid."
Louisville fans are not afraid to state their dislike for Calipari, and I expect him to become more of a villain as the years pass.