Hundreds cheer Kentucky players' return to Blue Grass Airport

jkegley@herald-leader.comMarch 25, 2012 

Like many University of Kentucky basketball fans, Millicent Robinson can't quite put into words what drives her love for the team.

"I don't know what it is, but I've latched on to Kentucky. I wouldn't cheer for any other team," she said.

Whatever it is, it drew her and about 500 other fans like magnets to Blue Grass Airport Sunday night to watch the men's basketball team return home from Atlanta, victorious over Baylor University.

Fans crowded next to Gate 5, off Airport Road, some of the fans peering through cracks in the fence just to get a look at their beloved team disembarking.

The plane landed shortly after 8 p.m. The weary team walked briefly to the gate to greet fans, drawing wild cheers from the crowd.

Robinson got there too late to see the plane land, but she glimpsed the players as they rode past the crowd in a charter bus.

Robinson moved to Lexington 34 years ago from Jamaica, having never paid much attention to basketball. Yet, within her first year here, she was hooked on the Wildcats.

That loyalty continues in her family, she said, pointing to the squirming 2-year-old grandson she brought to the airport.

Like Robinson, many people brought their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to greet the victorious Cats.

For the first time since the team's championship win in 1998, Donnie Short of Harrodsburg came to the airport to watch the Wildcats return. He brought his 4-year-old granddaughter, who had the best seat in the house: on her grandpa's shoulders.

"She wanted to come see Anthony Davis," he said.

The airport event marked the end of a long day of celebration for many fans, with more in store Saturday when the Wildcats take on the University of Louisville in the Final Four.

"We'll be back for that," Short said.

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