In a 1997 episode of the television series Seinfeld, viewers are introduced to the celebration of Festivus.
Held on Dec. 23, it is said to be a reaction to the over-commercialization of Christmas. A proper Festivus includes four main components; the one that matters for our purposes is the airing of grievances.
When it comes to Duke men’s basketball, every day in Kentucky is Festivus.
With John Calipari’s Wildcats set to face Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils on Tuesday night at 7:30 in Chicago’s United Center, it seems an appropriate time to review the grievances, both ancient and new, that Kentucky backers have with Duke.
1. Duke beats Kentucky.
Seven of the past eight.
2. When Duke beats Kentucky, it lasts forever.
Every March, when the NCAA Tournament rolls around, it is always 1992 and Christian Laettner is always catching that three-quarters-court pass, spinning and ripping the hearts out of UK chests.
3. When Kentucky beats Duke, it lasts about 15 minutes.
That Laettner buzzer beater? Kentucky avenged it in a fairly remarkable fashion in the 1998 NCAA Tournament when Tubby Smith’s Wildcats rallied from 17 points down in the final 10 minutes to beat Duke and earn a Final Four trip.
Yet, to the nation, it’s like that ’98 game never occurred. It’s never mentioned.
4. When Kentucky beats Duke, Duke still comes out better.
In the 1966 Final Four, Kentucky’s all-white team met Duke’s all-white team for a spot opposite Texas Western and its all-black starting lineup in the NCAA championship game.
UK bested Duke, lost to Texas Western and became the historic symbol of basketball segregation.
Duke, whose team was every bit as lily-white as Kentucky’s in 1966, saw its segregationist hoops past fade into the mists of history.
5. Kyle Macy.
In Kentucky, he was beloved. Duke ended his UK career in the 1980 NCAA Tournament.
6. The Unforgettables.
In Kentucky, the four seniors — Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, John Pelphrey and Sean Woods — who stayed with the UK program through a harsh NCAA probation were beloved.
Duke ended their careers in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
7. Duke always seems one up.
Remember in 1994 when Kentucky rallied from 31 points down in the second half to beat LSU? UK claimed it was the greatest second-half rally in NCAA men’s basketball history.
That lasted one day.
Duke checked its archives and found that it had once come from 32 down in the second half to beat Tulane in 1950.
8. The 2014-15 basketball season.
It was supposed to be a celebration of Kentucky’s drive to an undefeated national championship. And it was, too, through 38 straight Wildcats wins.
Then, in the last five minutes of the national semifinals, the UK offense went shockingly AWOL and the Cats lost from ahead against Wisconsin.
Which then fell to — wouldn’t you know it — Duke in the NCAA title game.
9. One-and-done perceptions.
When Calipari and UK won the 2012 NCAA championship starting three one-and-done freshmen, the national media narrative was that UK was undermining the wholesome principles college sports are supposed to represent.
When Duke and Coach K won the 2015 NCAA championship starting three one-and-done freshmen, the national media narrative was that Krzyzewski had shown remarkable flexibility in adapting to the modern reality of his sport.
Since Krzyzewski became Duke’s coach in 1980-81, the Blue Devils have won 947 games, played in 12 Final Fours and won five NCAA championships.
Over the same period, UK has won 916 games, played in nine Final Fours and won three NCAA titles.
In Kentucky, this is the greatest grievance against Duke of all.
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Duke
What: Champions Classic
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: United Center in Chicago
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1
Records: Kentucky 2-0, Duke 2-0
Series: Kentucky leads 11-9
Last meeting: Duke won 75-68 on Nov. 13, 2012, in Atlanta.