Update: Ramon Harris was released from UK’s Chandler hospital today, in good condition. He’s listed as day-to-day, as far as basketball goes. Michael Porter received 10 stitches last night and is also day-to-day.
After UK’s 103-61 victory over Lamar last night, former UK great Kenny Walker was probably correct in calling it the kind of game everyone can feel good about. The starters played great, the subs played great, the offense was great, the defense was great, and seriously, what about Darius Miller’s slam in the 2nd half!?!…..well, you get the idea.
However, for anyone who watched the game at home, or sat in the crowd at Rupp Arena, it is clear that game was not great for everyone. The Wildcats’ most complete performance of the year was marred by a violent head on collision between starters Michael Porter and Ramon Harris about half way through the first half, during a loose ball situation. Although the viewers at home may have seen the replay, the crowd at Rupp did not. During the 10-20 minutes that both players lay on the floor a silence fell over Rupp that, for me at least, drove home a point I often forget. These guys aren’t guys. They’re kids.
Let me be the first to admit that over the course of my life I have cussed, cursed, stomped, yelled, and flat out refused to believe that certain players were on the court or the field. Whether it was Saul Smith, Sheray Thomas, or Michael Hartline, their mere presence ticked me off. Although I never booed a college player, there were plenty times I wanted to. This year, for a lot of UK fans, Porter and Harris are those players. Two highly ranked freshmen, DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller, are sitting on the bench ready to sub in for these guys, and despite the fact that Porter and Harris have given 100% effort to the team, a lot of fans are ready to kick them to the curb and play the kids. In our desire to win we sometimes forget the people we boo and curse are 18-22 year old kids. They are college students who put in ungodly hours of physical and mental work on the court and in the classroom. They are college students with parents who still worry about them, and in Porter’s case a wife. Do you remember when you were in college? Do you remember all the time you wasted doing nothing, times that are probably some of your best memories? These kids don’t have that luxury. And when they do, the constant threat of one stupid action that leads to an arrest, one stupid picture that ends up on a website, or one stupid decision that lands them on the front page of the LHL hangs over their head. If these kids did what I did during the Winter semester of my junior year at Centre, they would have not only been kicked off the team, but they could face possible deportation (don’t ask).
Anyway, hopefully, as Porter and Harris received medical attention, we all were reminded that the kids who wear the blue and white for the University of Kentucky are not highly paid professionals, but in fact college students and people. The good news is that Porter returned to the bench with 10 stitches over his eye and reports from UK are that Harris is doing fine but is being kept for observation and testing.
So, the next time a kid screws up, and trust me it is going to happen a lot, remember we root for the University of Kentucky. A college full of college students.