Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Hate Us—Please

Matt King@TheRealMattKingFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 19:  Head Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers yells at his players as they run back on defense in the second half during their first round game against the CSUN Matadors in the first half of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 19, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Tigers defeated the Matadors 81-70. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

People have always hated John Calipari. 

Maybe it’s the whole used car salesman vibe that he gives off, the way that he’s able to secure the best talent in the nation, or the drama that always seems to find his teams.

Still, people couldn’t really hate Memphis all the way. The Tigers were still a Conference USA team and weren't allowed to sit at the cool lunch table with all of the other BCS schools. They could play the no-respect card, and it was true, to a degree, no matter how much talent they pulled in.

Now Calipari is at Kentucky, to which I say, “Bring on the hate!”

The last five years or so, Kentucky has triggered an emotional response from people so much worse than hate, it pains me to even type it: apathy.

This was the program that won more SEC championships than anyone else combined! 

We went to three national championships in a row in the '90s. The 1996 team had 10—count them—10 players that went on to play in the NBA.

When teams beat Kentucky, they gloated about it and acted like they had done something special, because they had. 

Lately? People don’t care. Teams in the SEC treated the matchup like any other game. Nobody was worried about Kentucky.

We lost to Gardner-Webb and VMI. We even missed the tournament! The Wildcats had completely taken themselves out of the conversation of college basketball’s elite.

Now? Kentucky basically stole the No. 1 recruiting class in the country by hiring Calipari. Patrick Patterson is coming back, Jodie Meeks most likely will come back, and word is that John Wall has Kentucky at the top of his list. 

If either one of those players is at UK next season, they are easily a top 10 team. Both? You’re looking at the best team in the country.

Hate us for it.

I want to be the Yankees. I want to bring in the best talent year after year, and I want it to make you angry. 

If Calipari can sell players on Memphis, imagine what he can do at Kentucky. It’s scary.

The SEC needs a villain again. The conference was awful last year. They need a team that they can all raise their games for.

Put a target on our backs. We’ll be that team.

I'm ready to embrace my old role as a fan. I'm ready for people to care about Kentucky again. 

Don't hate Kentucky yet? Don't worry.

You will.