John Clay: Laettner plays the villain with aplomb

Staged ejection part of the fun

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistOctober 25, 2011 

The bad guys won.

And to be honest, there was sort of a World Wrestling Federation feel, what with Christian Laettner raising his arms to a chorus of boos during the pre-game introductions at the Big Blue Stars-Villains game in Rupp Arena on Monday night.

I'm not sure, but he might have had something hidden in his suit.

Then near game's end, the former Duke star, who ripped out the collective heart of the Big Blue Nation way back when, staged his way into two technical fouls and a rousing exit, again to a chorus of boos.

But to be honest, the Dookie was a great sport about the whole deal, which was for a good cause, the V Foundation.

"I think the Kentucky fans had a good time tonight," said Laettner afterward.

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 being said, there were some entertaining moments on Monday, and the fans enjoyed themselves. Defense was discouraged, of course, which made for a better viewing experience.

Jodie Meeks scored 42 points, hitting 18 of 30 shots, including six of 17 three-pointers. Nazr Mohammed pulled down 13 rebounds. Rajon Rondo dished out 14 assists.

Corey Brewer led the winners with 32 points. Rudy Gay had 25 and Eric Gordon chipped in 24 points.

Kenneth Faried, the former Morehead State star, scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and he contributed several impressive blocks.

One of the funnier moments was when former Louisville star Terrence Williams, well ahead of the pack, paused for effect before a dunk — and then missed the dunk. The ball caught the edge of the rim.

To Rex Chapman, coach of the Stars, it all came out wrong in the end.

"If I was Jeff Sheppard," he said of the former Cat and the game promoter, "I would want my head."

But the winner and loser wasn't as important as the cause. And amid the dunks and no-look passes and all the on-the-court showmanship, there were a couple of things from the coaches that made the night.

One was Laettner getting down on his hands and knees and wiping up a sweat spot on the floor, all to the howls and cheers from the fans.

"I could see everyone stand up and take pictures of that with their cameras," he said.

The other was after the staged ejection, Laettner went to the very spot on the floor where he hit that shot and ask for the ball.

The crowd laughed, and cheered, and booed.

Someone asked Laettner what he thinks of every NCAA Tournament when they play that shot over and over and when he sees that shot from so many years ago?

"I love it," said Laettner.

"I want to strangle Pelphrey every time I watch it," Chapman said. "He's just standing there. There was time left on the clock, John. I love John, by the way."

And for a guy everyone loves to hate, you had to love Laettner for showing up and being such a good sport.

The bad guys won, but the baddest maybe won a few new fans.

Reach John Clay at 859-231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service