I have watched and loved Kentucky basketball my entire life. I carried a stuffed wildcat everywhere when I was two. When I was four, I busted my head open and needed stitches. When the nurse asked what color stitches I wanted, I calmly replied, "UK blue." I sat in my Daddy's lap and watched every game Jamal Mashburn ever played. In 5th grade (the year of the 1998 National Championship), I won a school prize for having the best UK spirit. I cried as a 15-year old meeting Tayshaun Prince. In short, I'm trying to tell you that I have followed and adored dozens of teams. Until now, I would have said my favorite team was the "Comeback Cats" of 1998. But this year changed everything. For all the love I've had for every team, this one was just different. I have never felt so involved, so connected to a group of players. Their unbelievable talent, their personalities, and their heart made them unlike any other team in this nation. The Big Blue Nation embraced them because they allowed us to. It was all but unbearable for me to wait from game to game and see these guys leave it all on the floor every time.
Would I have liked to seen the 8th National Championship banner hanging in Rupp Arena? As another Sarah would say, "You betcha." But I wouldn't trade the season we had for anything in the world. These guys brought life back into Kentucky basketball, and championship or not, no one can tell me that their school has a more talented team or a more loyal fanbase. I hope the players recognized how much we love them when they came home to a couple hundred Cats fans waiting for them at the airport, myself included. John, Eric, and DeMarcus walked out with their arms around one another, and came over to greet the fans. My headache completely subsided for a few minutes, and all I could do was smile.
I love this team, I love the Wildcats, and I love Kentucky. No apologies and no regrets.