The connection forged between Kentucky coach John Calipari and Drake, the superstar rapper and/or R&B artist (depending on whether or not you care for Drake's rhymes), is not a new one. Drake played at the first Big Blue Madness event hosted after Calipari's hiring, and he (like other very famous rappers, including Jay-Z) has been at least an occasional fixture at Kentucky home games and NCAA tournament events. Between descriptions of champagne purchases and laments about former girlfriends, Drake has often described himself as a UK fan. The bonds of marketing and mutual name association are appropriately tight.
And so now that Calipari and the Wildcats have won a national title, perhaps it was inevitable that Kentucky would send Drake a customized championship ring, and perhaps it was inevitable that a photo of that ring would show up on Drake's Instagram account (username: "champagnepapi," of course). Because that's exactly what happened Friday. As you can see at this Webstagram link, Drake's ring arrived with the inscription "Drizzy" just above "Kentucky Wildcats, 38-2."
The Lexington Herald-Leader's John Clay asks the question some Kentucky fans might share: Does Drake really deserve a championship ring? After all, he's just a supporter, and most often a supporter from afar. So, no, Drake probably does not deserve a 2012 championship ring in the strictest sense.
But that, obviously, is not the point. The point for Calipari is, as always, the marketing -- the ability to claim one of the most popular figures in the current pop culture as a fan, the desire to have that fan broadcast that connection over a massively popular Instagram feed and, above all, the ability to show 16-year-old recruits just how cool the opportunity to be a part of Kentucky basketball is. It's a rather obvious strategy, but it's been working for three years, and this is only the latest example.
(Hat tip: Daniel Martin)