Whether it was Jamal Maglore in the All-star game or Tim Couch getting drafted #1 overall by the Browns.
You can't help but to feel good for that guy and proud knowing how they represent "us" somehow.
In the past couple of weeks Wildcat Pride was in full bloom in the NBA finals, as Tayshaun Prince proved us proud.
Basketball at Kentucky is tradition at its finest but strangely even with 7 National Championships we don't have very many that have gone on to win rings in the NBA. It had been 23 years since a former Cat was able to win a NBA crown as a player (Pat Riley won his share as Coach of the Lakers). Rick Robey was on the Celtics 1981 championship team and no Cat had been so fortunate since.
The Detroit Pistons drafted Tayshaun as the 23rd pick in the 2002 draft and we, UK fans, knew that they were getting quite a player and best of all a great person. Tayshaun had the misfortune of spending his last year on team turmoil although we knew that he was in no way a cause for trouble. Prince had quite a career as a Cat and falling to the late first round just didn't seem right but it was a chance to go to decent team. Last year he played in 40 regular season games but made his mark in the playoffs that sringboarded him on his way to a starter this season.
Tayshaun made maybe the biggest play of the playoffs in the Indiana series with the block on Reggie Millers lay-up attempt with under a minute to go and a chance to tie the game. The Pistons were able to hang on and the play was shown over and over on sportscast leaving so many UK fans so happy to see them. Again, later in the series he made a block on Al Harrington with the score tied at 59. Tayshaun was showing he knew how to play defense and did all the little things to help the Pistons win.
So it was off to the finals to play the heavy favorite Lakers for the title.
Tayshaun was to be pitted defensively against all-world Kobe Bryant for the finals. Kobe was thought to be one of the 2 or 3 best players in the league and guarding him would be a daunting task. But Tayshaun was up for the task and although he might not be able to completely shut him down he was able to play team defense and use his extraordinary length to his advantage. He kept Kobe in front of him for the most part and was able to affect his shots with his long arms. Kobe was able to be driven into double teams and had a hard time getting into any kind of flow offensively.
Watching Tayshaun in the finals and especially in the final game scoring 17 and grabbing 10 rebounds was the perfect ending to the basketball season.
Prince learned so much from Tubby and he relished his UK experience where he also earned his degree.
It must be a pleasure to coach such a young man or to have him in their organization. He never is going to cause negative publicity and is what a role model should be.
For this Cat fan, Detroit was never one of my teams that I cared for, but watching their run throughout the playoffs made me a fan of the motor city giant, through the they played defense. It is such a pleasure to congratulate Tayshaun for the title he has now won and thank him for the pride that all UK fans feel from the way he played and handled himself as a former Wildcat.