Taylor’s Take: True love never dies

Published 3:30 pm Monday, April 15, 2024

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Somewhere in the deep corners of the internet, I once read, “True love never dies.”

I’ve tested that maxim over the last few years.

Like millions of Kentuckians before me, I fell head over heels in love with Kentucky basketball in 1995. 

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I cheered with my family when the Cats beat Arkansas in that year’s SEC Tournament final in one of the best games you’ll ever see.

I attended my first game that fall with my dad, an exhibition against Athletes and Action, and I still have the ticket in a personal box of keepsakes. 

I saw my first UK national championship a few months later—on tape—because my parents wouldn’t let me stay up until 9 p.m. on a school night, not that I’m still bitter about it or anything.

And like many cases of true love, I had it bad for the Blue and White.

Countless family legends recall my bouts of pouting and vows of “Never again” when UK lost. 

I never meant it then, and still don’t now.

Two or three nights a week, my folks and I never made plans because the game was on. We were always parked in front of the TV on those nights, sometimes drowning out the ESPN commentary with the radio broadcast.

My favorite memory of my Egee is her yelling at the TV, “Get that ball!” during games.

I’ve been to more mediocre December blowouts than I can count, and I treasure each memory of them.

Somewhere along the way, my love for Kentucky basketball faded.

I’m still trying to understand why.

It may have been my stint as a sports journalist that instilled in me the idea that being a homer was the mark of a true unprofessional.

It mayve have been it was my discovery of my beloved Liverpool FC and how the mighty Reds filled the blue-colored hole in my heart.

Or it may have been arguments that dotted the Big Blue landscape of the 15 years of the Calipari era: One and done vs. four years, the meltdown over the 2021 team taking a knee before the national anthem or just about the coach himself.

It was exhausting, and it was something I just didn’t want to be a part of anymore. I wanted to walk away and leave my first true love behind.

I just couldn’t.

I’d still obsessively check game scores on my phone.

I tried my best to will them to victory in that embarrassing loss to Oakland last month.

If I’m being honest, I missed being a true Kentucky fan. I missed the passion. I missed the games with my parents. I missed the pouting after every loss; okay, maybe not that. More than anything, I missed being in love with the Blue and White.

I think me and the Cats are ready to get back together. I blame new head coach Mark Pope for that.

The moment he busted out the immortally cool “Who’s in the house tonight?/UK” I was six years old again. The bus entrance to Rupp Arena brought so many great memories of that untouchable NCAA Tournament run in 95-96. The sheer passion of the coach, our new coach, has for the program is contagious.

Call me lovesick if that is the case. Then again, maybe I was never fully cured; after all, true love never dies.

Warren Taylor is the executive editor for the Winchester Sun and six other news publications across Kentucky and Tennessee.