While I will freely disclose that I grew up in Kentucky — only 20 miles from Rupp Arena, the Center of the Basketball Universe – my bias should in no way distract from the sheer, blinding logic of my argument.
As the NCAA tournament starts rolling today, the rooting interest of the conservative world should be clear: John Calipari’s Wildcats are the only reasonable choice. Yes, there are basketball reasons for this decision. It’s tough to improve on Andrew Sharp’s take in Grantland, “Kentucky Is the Only Team that Matters:”
You can go two directions here. You can complain about the new college basketball superpower and the rise of an all-star team at a school that already had every advantage in the world. You can lament what it has done to the sport you once loved. You can root for Kentucky to fail.
Or you can jump onboard with what’s happening and savor the absurdity. Don’t just tolerate this team. Love this team. Enjoy every John Calipari interview in which he ignores the question and turns it into one long recruiting pitch. Enjoy the 7-footers coming off the bench like Voltron, and enjoy Karl-Anthony Towns using March to obliterate any doubt about who should be the no. 1 NBA draft pick in June. Enjoy the games that look close for five minutes and then become a natural disaster that leaves everyone at home praying for survivors.
But that’s hoops. What about law and culture? Simply put, the Kentucky Wildcats are the free-market thorn in the Marxist NCAA’s side. Unable to pay the players who generate staggering revenues for their program — and thus coerced into complicity with the liberal NCAA’s outrageous exploitation of its athletes — Kentucky has done the next best thing: It has transformed itself into a vocational school for the NBA. Come to Kentucky, and you will learn how to play the pro game and how to play with pro levels of pressure. Come to Kentucky and you’ll join an extended fraternity of players that — if gathered onto one team — would be favorites to not just win the NBA title every year but also take home Olympic gold. A current Kentucky-alum NBA starting five could include Anthony Davis (“The Brow), DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins,” Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (the league’s most destructive defender), Eric Bledsoe, and John Wall — an untouchable combination.Drake hangs out in the UK locker room. LeBron is a fan. The message is clear: Come to Kentucky, and you will reach your full earning potential, on the court and off.
But conservatives aren’t just about dollars. We believe in conducting our free-market lives with honor and integrity. And if you watch this UK team, you see young kids playing selfless basketball. McDonald’s All-Americans sit half the game without grumbling, all-world scorers pass up good shots for better shots, and the entire group takes fierce pride in the least glamorous part of basketball: defense.
Again, here’s Andew Sharp:
Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be the no. 1 pick in the draft, Willie Cauley-Stein is the best defender in the country, Devin Booker is there to drain 3s, and the Harrison twins are so frustrating that you’ll eventually learn to love them. Together, they’ve all been unstoppable for the past three months, and now they have a chance to make history in the next three weeks.
If college basketball is being destroyed by Kentucky, don’t mourn the end. Just sit back and enjoy the destruction.
And all the people said, “Amen.”
This article first appeared here on National Review.