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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Kentucky fans let Laettner off easy

By Eamonn Brennan

Knowing how rowdy Kentucky fans can be, and knowing how much those rowdy fans hate Christian Laettner, you would have thought last night's Big Blue All-Stars Vs. Villains match-up would have unleashed 40 minutes of unbridled hate. Sure, the game was for charity -- the V Foundation for Cancer Research, to be exact -- and sure, it was yet another exhibition on Kentucky fans' rather overstuffed hoops calendars, but the idea was brilliant and the cause was noble. All Kentucky fans had to do was show up and boo.

Plenty of them did -- just not as many as most expected. There were more than a few empty seats for the event last night, which you can see if you click here and watch the Twitter videos Matt Norlander curated earlier this morning. Laettner received his fair share of boos, and he played the heel roll to full effect, staging a pair of technical fouls and an ejection in the process. If it sounds similar to professional wrestling, that's probably because it was.

The game featured a bevy of current pros from Kentucky and former "rivals" (like Indiana's Eric Gordon and Lousville's Terrance Williams). The Villains took the title. The Lexington Herald-Leader's always-excellent John Clay was on hand for the event, which sounds like it was a lot of fun for a good cause -- even if the crowd was a "disappointment." But John can explain:
Because of the beneficiaries, the attendance was the night's real disappointment. Three hours before tip-off, only 7,000 tickets had been sold. But the truth is we're pretty much exhibitioned out. There were the two Dominican Republic National Team exhibitions. There was the Big Blue Stars tour that circled the state with many of the same Kentucky alums who stepped on the floor versus the Villains.

Plus, we're about ready to see the current Cats. There's the Blue-White scrimmage on Wednesday night in Rupp. No offense to the old guys, but it's the youngsters — Davis, Teague, Kidd-Gilchrist, Wiltjer — the fans are anxious to see.

That makes sense. There have been no shortage of exhibitions at Rupp Arena this offseason, that's for sure. Although as someone who loves both college basketball and the NBA, let me just say this: If a bunch of NBA players show up for a pickup run at the United Center, no matter how sloppy that game is, I'm going. This new Jordan Brand commercial can't be that far off.