Bashing players, coaches for following dreams is wrong



What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s one of the most common questions we’re asked when we’re children and the answers can range everywhere from firefighter, to doctor, to teacher to professional basketball player.

Wait, professional basketball player?

Call me crazy, but after reading the comments from a lot of Big Blue Nation – no, not all of Big Blue Nation – I would have thought John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton were leaving UK early to enter a profession not safe for print.

I’ve heard everything from ‘John Calipari might as well be a trainer for the NBA,’ to ‘Why isn’t Calipari making his players stay to earn their degrees?,’ to ‘Everyone going pro is going to be broke in five years anyway.’

I don’t get it. Actually, it genuinely makes me upset.

I’m sorry Big Blue Nation if this freshman class didn’t deliver an eighth championship banner, but what else do they need to do for you?

They reinvigorated a program that had grown stale under the previous regime, they excited you all enough to help set a new Rupp Arena attendance record, they beat Louisville, they beat North Carolina, they won the program’s 2,000th game, they dawned covers that had never been dawned before by college players, they won countless awards, they won regular season and postseason championships, they started dance crazes, and they were one of the biggest stories in all of college basketball.

Why are you grilling them for following their dreams to become professional basketball players? Why are you grilling Calipari for encouraging them to follow their dreams?

Sure, getting a degree would be great, but let me ask you this: If you were majoring to become an accountant, and you were one of the smartest and brightest accounting majors in the entire country when you were just a freshman, and a firm contacted you and said they would pay you $30 million over the next five years to work for them, would you turn them down?

Even that scenario isn’t fair though. These players can always get injured and have their dream and all the money that comes with it washed down the drain from an injury.

Please, stop acting like these young men are doing something horrible by foregoing a few years of college to begin a respected, well-paid profession as a professional athlete.

I don’t mean to paint Big Blue Nation with too broad a brush. It certainly is not everybody who is upset with these young men. In fact, it’s probably a minority, but why are some of you treating these young athletes with disdain for following their dreams?

Sure, as a fan it might stink to know your favorite team is missing out on a great opportunity to hang another banner in the hallowed rafters of Rupp Arena, but don’t put your fandom and personal desires above the futures of five young men who you cheered on for six months.

When these 19-, 20- and 21-year-olds were in elementary school and were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, it’s likely they said a professional basketball player.

Is that such a horrible dream?

Let’s congratulate Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe and Orton for accomplishing their dreams at such young ages. Let’s congratulate these five players for being able to support their families. Let’s wish these players the best of luck in the future while thanking them for their work in the past.

All they’re guilty of is working hard and following their dream when they were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.