Fans crowd joy-filled arena for Calipari’s Alumni Charity game


Trey Lyles goofs off during the Alumni Game on Friday, August 25, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Zack Geoghegan

UK’s head basketball coach John Calipari hosted his fifth annual Alumni Charity game Friday night at Rupp Arena. The event featured two separate games between former Kentucky Wildcats players both past and those currently playing in the NBA.

The “Legends” game was first, which showcased players from the 1970s all the way up until the mid-2000s, including Kyle Macy, Ravi Moss, Jack “Goose” Givens and Perry Stevenson. The main event was the “Alumni” game, which immediately followed. The game featured 10 current NBA players and other former Kentucky greats such as Rex Chapman, Jamaal Magloire and Tony Delk.

The Alumni game was filled with plenty of long threes and even more crowd-erupting dunks. The White team barely edged out the Blue team 115-109 in a game where the points didn’t matter but each basket was more thrilling than the next.

“It’s just exciting to see that much talent in one place,” said Barbara, 62, a longtime Kentucky fan who primarily came to see the Legends game but was excited to see the plethora of NBA talent on display.

There was hardly a dull moment as nearly every player found a way to keep fans entertained with or without the basketball in their hands. From DeMarcus Cousins launching near half-court threes, to Rajon Rondo bouncing passes off his head for Eric Bledsoe alley-oops, to Alex Poythress windmill dunking as if he was playing in Rupp Arena for the very first time, everyone got in on the action. Despite the players understandably going at about half-speed, they still knew how to put on a fantastic show.

Fans even got a kick out of watching some of their favorite former players sport the blue and white once again. When asked about his favorite moment of the Legends game, Ben, a longtime Kentucky fan said, “When Cameron Mills couldn’t get up and down the court” with a chuckle.

Every player was having fun, goofing off, and genuinely enjoying their experiences back inside the arena where it all began for them. If it wasn’t Derek Anderson doing push ups during the middle of the game, it was DeMarcus Cousins playfully hip-checking Rondo into the first row.

Kentucky alum Chapman was overjoyed with the entire experience. “This is amazing,” Chapman said. “We had decades represented out there.”

As a whole, the event was a success. Over one million dollars was raised for different charities and fans got a chance to see their favorite Wildcats one more time.