Critical Kemp

Kemba Goes Pro- But Has He Earned The Right To Leave?

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It may or may not be common knowledge that both John (principal of and I are UConn graduates, so obviously this was an exciting year for both of us.  I started college in 1986 a month after we acquired Jim Calhoun.  Now Calhoun can be mentioned in the same breath, and counted on the same hand as coaching greats John Wooden, Bob Knight and Coach K with 3 or more national titles (and the commonly overlooked NIT Championship Calhoun won back in my day, admittedly the booby prize, but there it is: 3 NCAA, 1 NIT)

Upsettingly but not unexpectedly, I just saw on ESPN today that Kemba Walker will be moving on.  Now, I am one of those unrealistic romantics that would like to see all college superstars play all four years, despite the obvious incentive to go to the NBA and start making money.  But, even a romantic like me, with unrealistic hopes of keeping stars for a senior year, has one exception to his high hopes and hoop dreams.  That is, the NCAA title-winning superstar.  Khalid El Amin left early in 1999, but won the title, so did Emeka Okafor in 2004, and now Kemba in 2011.  It is my contention that if you win it all for us, as much as I’d love you to stay, I consider your commitment served in full.  What pisses me off is the clipped commitments of players like Caron Butler of 2002 or Rudy Gay of 2006, who leave our team after getting us only to the Sweet 16 or worse – and then split.  This for 2 reasons:  First, is that you didn’t get the job done, and second is what Calhoun calls “linkage”.  The junior or senior marquis player is supposed to carry the UConn torch and teach the underclassmen coming in how it’s done in Storrs.  What it means to play UConn basketball.  When a player leaves unexpectedly early, he disrupts this “linkage”, and leaves the team without a leader.  It takes seasons to correct, as best evidenced by Rudy Gay, and our 3 year drought in the post seasons of the late 2000s.

So, Kemba, love you my man.  Your number retired, your 2011 championship banner hanging high in Gample Pavilion – your commitment is served in full.  Best of luck in the NBA my friend.  ~Critical Kemp

John is a badass motha fucka

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