Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl invited a special guest to campus yesterday. His name? Bernard King. Perhaps you've heard of him. King was a UT great that went on to a pro career in the NBA, finishing as the 31st highest scorer in NBA history. Bernard is a Tennessee partisan, of course, and so his message to the current Vols was less than political:
"We don't lose to Kentucky," King told the Vols. "You hear me? We're not losing to Kentucky. I'm going to be there with you, and we're going to get it done."
This no doubt pumped up the Vols. It also provided a bit of -- get ready to cringe -- "bulletin board material" for the No. 2-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. John Calipari relayed his message to the team, and the team was no doubt furious about the disrespect coming from this Bernard King fellow. Wait, who is Bernard King again?
"They asked, who is Bernard King? What number is Bernard King?" Calipari said on Friday. " 'I'm guarding him.' "
For the sake of my respect for Kentucky's players, let's hope Calipari's joking -- or, more likely, overstating the players' reaction to take some wind out of UT and King's sails. Let's hope so. Because hey, John Wall? Eric Bledsoe? DeMarcus Cousins? You guys should probably know who Bernard King is. No one would expect you to know, like, Billy Cunningham, or Tommy Heinsohn; those are NBA names largely lost to pop-culture history. But Bernard King? That one should probably click.
In any case, the Cats can get familiar with Bernard in person tonight; he'll be at Tennessee's huge showdown with the Wildcats. Perhaps there will be time for a meet and greet.