Laettner coming to Rupp to coach in charity game

Sheppard pits ex-Duke star against King Rex for all-star clash

jtipton@herald-leader.comOctober 6, 2011 

  • What do you think?

    We asked:

    Can you stomach seeing Christian Laettner in Rupp Arena?

    You said:

    ■ "There are only a few people on this planet who I can truly say I HATE ... he's in the Top 3." — John Richardson

    ■ "This looks like a great event for a great charity." — David Wright Jr.

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Having organized a charity game that will feature former Kentucky players against "villains" of UK basketball, Jeff Sheppard chuckled at the notion of Christian Laettner appearing in Rupp Arena later this month.

"It's a great opportunity for Kentucky fans to come out and tell Christian Laettner exactly how they feel about him," Sheppard said Wednesday.

That delicious opportunity will be Oct. 24 when a team of former UK players called "The Big Blue All-Stars" will play "The Villains." Laettner will coach The Villains.

Besides letting fans tell Laettner they haven't forgotten — nor, presumably, forgiven — his famous game-winning shot against the Cats, the game serves as a fund-raiser for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

An official announcement of the game is planned for Thursday. Tickets are expected to go on sale Monday.

The roster of former UK players will resemble the team that will barnstorm Kentucky beginning this Saturday against the University of Pikeville, Sheppard said. Other games on the tour are against Alice Lloyd on Sunday, Georgetown on Monday, Union on Tuesday and Mid-Continent on Oct. 13.

As for the Villains, Sheppard said the team will be made up of some NBA players who earlier played for Louisville, Duke, North Carolina, Florida and Connecticut. "It looks like the usual suspects," Sheppard said.

Former UK hero Rex Chapman will coach The Big Blue All-Stars.

"The aim is to be a lot of fun," Sheppard said.

Laettner hit the game-winning shot in Duke's 104-103 victory over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament East Region finals. With 2.1 seconds left, Sean Woods had made a basket to put UK ahead 103-102.

Laettner made all 10 field goals and all 10 free throws he attempted in the game that not only ushered Duke into the Final Four but also closed the curtain on UK's Unforgettables.

When asked about the process of getting Laettner to participate in the charity game, Sheppard said, "It was pretty simple."

Sheppard said he started by calling Duke and explaining his idea for a game to benefit The V Foundation.

"Two hours later, he called me," Sheppard said.

After about 15 minutes of what Sheppard described as "typical chit-chat," the former UK player explained his idea for the charity game.

"Jeff, I love the idea," Sheppard said of Laettner's response. "I'd love to be the villain."

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