In a parallel universe, the state of Kentucky has been dominating the NBA for years. Back in 1976, when the six remaining teams in the fledgling American Basketball Association (ABA) were negotiating for survival, the Kentucky Colonels were left out of the mix. Kentucky had enjoyed a stable history -- by ABA standards -- and its Hubie Brown-coached 1975 league champions might have been the best team produced by the upstart league, one that could have rivaled the best the NBA had to offer at the time. Somewhere in the multiverse, those Colonels held on to Brown, along with star players Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore, entered the NBA and became a respected franchise in the mold of today's San Antonio Spurs.
In the universe in which we actually reside, the Colonels are mostly forgotten in NBA circles. Yet Kentucky's long tradition as an epicenter of basketball is as intact as ever. In fact, the number of impact professional players the University of Kentucky has churned out under coach John Calipari has grown so immense that the influence of the Bluegrass State on the NBA is perhaps greater now than it would have ever been had the Colonels made the cut 40 years ago.