The Kentucky Title: A Five-Act Play

 John Calipari

Act 1: Pregame

Kentucky locker room — Senior Darius Miller is giving his team a pep talk

Miller: Guys, a lot of you will go on to great professional careers, but believe me when I tell you that you’ll never have another oppor —

[John Calipari turns to the side wall and makes a loud retching noise.]

Miller: Coach? Are you OK?

Calipari: Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry. It’s just … never mind, go ahead. Keep going.

Miller: [Confused.] OK, well, like I was saying, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and —

[Calipari makes another loud vomiting noise.]

Miller: All right, what’s going on, coach?

Calipari: I can’t take it! I’m sorry, I am. But you’re so hideously old, and it’s making me sick to my stomach!

Miller: I’m a senior in college!

Calipari: Ahhh! Stop saying it! You don’t think I know?! Stop saying it! [To himself.] Look at the freshmen, John. Get yourself together. Look at the freshmen.

Anthony Davis: I already hate where this is going.

Calipari: Oh, Anthony. As perfect as ever. In the autumn of your beauty, sure, but handsome and dignified as you face the perils of old age. You’re as regal as your Roman namesake, Marc Antony, but unencumbered by a harlot usurper like Cleopatra.

Anthony Davis: I honestly don’t know how to respond to that.

Marquis Teague: Marc Anthony? Dude has some sick tunes.

Everyone: Shut up, Marquis.

Anthony Davis: Coach, I just turned 19, and — hey, can you give me some space here? I feel like things are getting a little close.

Calipari: Say it again.

Davis: Give me some space?

Calipari: No, the 19 part.

Davis: [To himself.] I knew that was a mistake. [To Calipari.] Coach, I never do this, but look at my unibrow. Look at it!

Calipari: Merely a trifling blemish that sets off the beauty anew!

Miller: [Desperate.] Coach, he’s practically a sophomore.

Calipari: DO YOU HAVE TO RUIN EVERYTHING, YOU UNSEEMLY HAG?!

Act 2: First Half

[Anthony Davis is on the sideline, looking at the contact that just fell out of his eye. Doron Lamb comes up beside him.]

Davis: I’m almost there.

Doron Lamb: Where?

Davis: [Laughs.] You’re so simple, Doron. I’m getting closer to fully embodying the doctrine of rejection.

Lamb: What are you talking about?

Davis: Don’t you get it? Shot blocking. Rejection. That’s been my game for my whole life. Anthony Davis, longer and taller than the other kids, sending shots into the bleachers.

Lamb: OK, but what does that have to do with —

Davis: It’s not enough to reject shots anymore, Doron! It was never enough! To truly give myself to rejection, I have to reject everything. And I just rejected my contact! I’m getting better, Doron. I’m seeing the light!

Lamb: OK, this has to stop. [Davis grimaces.] Hey, what are you doing?

Davis: I’m trying to reject my own kidney.

Lamb: That is ridiculous, man. Come on.

Davis: Ridiculous? Ridiculous is the world of acceptance, this false construct we’ve all built when rejection is the true reality of life! What happens to our lives, at the end?

Lamb: I … I don’t want …

Davis: Say it!

Lamb: We get … we get rejected.

Davis: Rejected! The nature of life is rejection! I reject shots. I rejected my contact. I reject traditional ideas of basketball. I’m the coach now. [Davis picks up Calipari's clipboard.] But I reject having to diagram a play. [He throws the clipboard into the stands.[ I reject all rules. [The ball rolls toward him, he grabs it.] I reject the idea of five players on a team. I’m going out there. Oh, but I also reject the idea that I have to wear shorts!

As he struggles to take off his shorts and run on the court, a bench full of players tackle him.

Davis: I AM THE REJECTOR! [The players drag him off the court and into the locker room.] YOU ARE THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS!

Teague: Great tunes.

Everyone: Shut up, Teague!

Ref: I’m going to pretend none of this happened.

Act 3: Halftime

Terrence Jones is pacing back and forth by himself in a secluded part of the locker room while his teammates rest.

Terrence Jones: I am the hell-hound, the wildest cat!
Who feasts on the gluttons who live off the fat
They smile and curtsy and titter and bow
Yet they are the soil, and I am the plow!
If only the cowards could see what’s in store
I’ll pickle their hearts in a —

[Kyle Wiltjer pokes his head in.]

Kyle Wiltjer: Heyyyy man.

Jones: [Startled] Oh … hey. Hey, Kyle.

Wiltjer: Were, you, uh … were you doing an evil monologue?

Jones: Nope. What?

Wiltjer: Because it sort of sounded like an evil monologue.

Jones: No way. That’d be crazy.

Wilter: Well, it wouldn’t be the first time, and —

Jones: Can you just go?

Wiltjer: Fine. I just wanted to see if you wanted some baby powder. I know you get chafed sometimes.

Jones: GET OUT!

[Wiltjer hurries out the door.]

Jones: Wait! Wait. [Wiltjer pokes his head in.] Yeah, I need some powder. I’m chafed like crazy.

Act 4: Second Half

Calipari and his team are in a timeout. Kansas has come almost all the way back, and the Jayhawks trail just 67-63 with 1:11 left.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Look, these guys can’t hang with us! We’re up six, and we can hang on and win this damn thing if we keep up the intensity. We just gotta play as a team, and stay in sync!

Teague: Great tunes.

Everyone: Shut up, Marquis!

Kidd-Gilchrist: We may be the new kids on the block —

Teague: Own every album.

Kidd-Gilchrist: Seriously, Marquis, shut up. This is the national title game! What I’m trying to say is that I know we’ve got more heart than any team out there. Remember what we say: Never quit! That’s our creed.

Teague: So amazing. So solid. Scott Stapp is out of this world.

Davis: You have the worst fucking taste in music, man.

Lamb: Seriously, what is your deal?

Kidd-Gilchrist: Focus, guys! We’re one minute from a championship. So let’s turn up the heat. Let’s turn it to up 98 degrees and crisscross these guys. O-Town is our town!

[Everyone turns to look at Teague, who is biting his fist in a desperate attempt to stay quiet.]

Davis: To be fair, Michael, it’s sort of insane how many shitty band names you keep mentioning. I mean, who says “crisscross”? Who calls New Orleans “O-Town”?

Kidd-Gilchrist: I don’t know. Maybe I’m just losing my cool. All I know is I loaned Thomas Robinson five cents for the vending machine when we played in November, and he never repaid me. I want my nickel ba — OK, yeah, I’m seeing it now too. Weird.

Act 5: Postgame Interview

[Jim Nantz is interviewing Calipari and Davis on national TV.]

Jim Nantz: Anthony, first question is an obvious one: Tell me how it feels to be a national champion.

Davis: I reject it. [He walks away.]

Jim Nantz: That’s … that’s interesting. So, coach, on a team loaded with talented freshmen, today it was a sophomore, Doron Lamb, who led your team in scoring.

Calipari: I know. So disgusting. At least it wasn’t Miller, right?

Nantz: Um … pardon?

Calipari: Then I’d probably give the trophy back.

Nantz: OK. Anyway, you may be saying good-bye to a lot of your players, so tell us how satisfying it is to win your first national title with such a young group.

Calipari: So satisfying, believe me. Look, I’ve got to go. I’m starting to get queasy around you. No offense, but when did you graduate? 1942?

Nantz: Actually, I just registered for some night courses in botany. I’ve been getting really into gardening lately, so the wife and I thought —

Calipari: Wait, so you’re … I mean, technically, you’re a … freshman?

Nantz: I suppose that’s one way to think about it.

[Black out, lights up stage left on production truck, with producer and technicians in front of a wall of monitors.]

Producer: What is he doing? Good God, what is he doing?! Cut! Cut on Calipari! Cut! Cut! Holy hell, why aren’t we cutting?

[The head technician turns around, takes off his sunglasses, and reveals that he's former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, and he's holding a pistol.]

Tarkanian: I believe we’ll let this one play out. Shut the doors.

Marquis Teague: Terrible band. Overrated.

Everyone: Shut up, Teague!

Filed Under: College Basketball, March Madness, NCAA tournament, Shane Ryan

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Shane Ryan is a contributing writer for Grantland. His book about the young stars of the PGA Tour will be published by Random House in early 2015.

Archive @ ShaneRyanHere