An excited rush to present Kentucky Coach John Calipari with a ceremonial key to the city Thursday led Pikeville officials to unwittingly give him a plaque that contained two typographical errors. These mistakes gave detractors a chance to use ugly stereotypes of Kentuckians in reactions posted on the Internet.
Pikeville city manager Donovan Blackburn said Monday that the obviousness of the mistakes showed their innocent nature.
"To misspell the word 'the' is not done out of a sense of ignorance," he said. "It's done out of a sense of a mistake."
On the plaque presented to Calipari at Pikeville's Exposition Center, the word "the" was spelled "th." The plaque also noted how UK's basketball team had returned the NCAA Tournament championship trophy to "it's rightful home." It should have read "its rightful home."
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Pikeville officials presented the plaque to Calipari during a stop on UK's so-called trophy tour, which was a rush job from inception last Tuesday to completion on Saturday.
On Wednesday, UK first expressed interest in including Pikeville on the tour, Blackburn said.
"We told them, 'Absolutely, we'd love to have the trophy here.' We bleed blue like the rest of the state of Kentucky."
Blackburn, who was in Orlando, Fla., last week attending a meeting with U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, received a text message late Thursday morning from a staffer seeking approval for a key-to-the-city plaque. With Calipari scheduled to appear in town at 2 p.m., Blackburn quickly agreed. He used his iPad to type out the message for the plaque.
The iPad auto-corrected "its" to "it's," Blackburn said. As for misspelling the word "the," the engraver accidently left off the last letter.
"Typically, in a situation like this, I would review it," Blackburn said of the plaque. "I was out of town."
One of his staffers picked up the plaque from the engraver and "delivered it literally minutes before the City Commission was to present it," he said. "So it was handed to a city commissioner who handed it to coach. It was all a rush."
Blackburn knew of the Internet postings that interpreted the plaque as a product of ignorant Kentuckians.
"I guarantee any publication that had to rush to meet a deadline, those things are going to happen," he said.
Blackburn noted how Kentucky's League of Cities recently declared Pikeville one of the Commonwealth's most progressive cities. Pikeville is a hub for banking, entertainment and retail in Eastern Kentucky, he said.
Of the mistakes on the plaque, Blackburn said, "I assure you it's not based on ignorance."
After becoming aware of the mistakes, the engraver made a new plaque Thursday night.
Pikeville officials "drove to Lexington the very next morning and hand-delivered the corrected plaque," Blackburn said, "and took back the plaque that had the errors. Early Friday morning, we traded out plaques with an apology."
There will be news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday with UK Coach John Calipari and underclassmen Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague. It is expected that all will announce their intentions regarding the NBA Draft. Get the latest updates on Twitter from John Clay (@johnclayiv) and Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton).