Kentucky alums lose to 'Villains' squad
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A team of former Wildcats and a team made up of alumni of Kentucky's rivals participated in an exhibiton game Monday night, wrapping up a nine-stop barnstorming tour at various small gyms against college teams across the state.
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The Villains' coach was Christian Laettner who, while at Duke, hit a turnaround buzzer beater to beat Kentucky in a regional final of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. The shot, and Laettner's reaction, has become one of college basketball's most iconic moments.
The exhibition played up the fans' dismay for Laettner. Shirts were sold at the arena with "I Still Hate Laettner" across the chest.
In the fourth quarter of the game Monday, an official called timeout to wipe up a wet spot. Laettner grabbed a towel from his bench and went to wipe it up. He got on all fours and spent extra attention shining a spot on the free-throw line corresponding to the one from which he hit his memorable shot.
While he was wiping up sweat, Hayes walked over and flung a bit of extra moisture on the ground, drawing a considerable applause.
With about two minutes left in the fourth quarter of the exhibition, Laettner went to mid-court to argue with an official. He was given two technical fouls and was ejected. Afterward, Laettner and Big Blue All-Stars coach Rex Chapman admitted it was scripted.
"We knew we were going to get me tossed but when somebody started slipping on the floor, a fan behind me yelled, 'Laettner, wipe up their sweat!" Laettner said. "That wasn't pre-planned, I just thought it was a good idea. Everybody started taking pictures on their little cameras when I did that."
It was the second time in two months Meeks had played in an exhibition at Rupp Arena. The first was a game between the Dominican Republic national team, coached by John Calipari, and a similar group of UK alumni in the pros.
Meeks, of the Philadelphia 76ers, was hoping he didn't have to come back even though exhibitions like these are his only chance to play in anything resembling a real game during the lockout. Monday's game was scheduled before a round of negotiations between the NBA owners and the National Basketball Players Association. If the lockout had ended then, event organizers said Monday's game would have been cancelled.
"We felt like it was a realistic possibility to miss games before, but it does feel a little different now that it's right here," Meeks said. "But we have to wait for the right deal. We can't afford not to. I really have no control over it, I'm just trying to stay optimistic."
"I mean, nobody's ever going to complain about extended vacation," Hayes said. "But you would like to have some kind of income. You would like to be able to do what you love."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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