Losing a Lost Proposition

Marshall Hastings
Assistant Sports Editor

 

 

 

It’s a common belief, however wrong it may be, that a team must lose. No matter the sport, we’re led to believe that losing is good. That losing is beneficial. That somehow, losing is needed.

Yes, losing helps teams realize what they do right, what they do wrong, and helps determine who and what does or doesn’t work for the team.

But somewhere in the mix it seems we’ve forgotten just how important winning is. See, as much as losses refocus you and point out your flaws, wins motivate you and show you just how dominant you can be.

Which is why the Kentucky Wildcats simply don’t need to lose. In fact, they can’t lose. They need to go undefeated.

In a world where the ‘greatest’ always seem to be in the past, where no one current can out do what the previous did, Kentucky could buck this pointless trend.

No one will be better than MJ, no one will be as dominant as the ’85 Bears, no one can touch the Yankees of nearly any decade, so why can’t Kentucky be that team?

Yes, Indiana went undefeated, running the table to a 32-0 season under Bobby Knight during the 1975-76 season, including an 86-68 beat down of Michigan in the National Championship game.

But in this new era of one and done’s, Kentucky has a chance to do something special. For starters, the margin from the nations best to the nations mediocre teams is thinning. The college ranks are loaded with future professional stars, future lottery picks, and future NBA superstars.

Next off, the season is longer. Kentucky already sits at 26-0, the best start in school history. With five games remaining in the regular season, the Wildcats would need just one win in the SEC Tournament to match the Knight-led Hoosiers and continue their pursuit of perfection.

The reason Kentucky can’t lose is simple: John Calipari has a chance to prove that what he’s doing isn’t a flash in the pan. Calipari could take a bunch of young, potential pumping basketball players and put them at the pinnacle of college basketball.

He could do what he couldn’t do a year ago, nor Steve Fischer and the 1991-92 Michigan Wolverines, affectionately nicknamed the ‘Fab Five.’

He could take a bunch of young, unproven, future NBA stars and make them champions. Kids don’t stick around long enough to create dynasties in college basketball. The one-and-done’s pick a college not for four years, but five months.

They choose the school with the most history, where if they come and go, they won’t be counted on to resurrect a program. They will only be counted on to continue a legacy of winning. That’s why championship teams are often full of juniors and seniors, not freshman and sophomores pulling the weight.

Yes, you remember past champions. You will remember Kemba Walker’s unforgettable march to the National Championship, or Anthony Davis’ dominant run in 2011.

There is also UCLA’s dynasty under John Wooden, winning 10 championships in 12 years, or NC State’s unforgettable upset over the Houston Cougars in 1983.

But unbeaten and unblemished is even better. Indiana and UCLA, the peak of perfection. Teams that run so well that no one could touch them. They were what every team strived to be. Every night, every team walks on the floor hoping to win. No one wants to lose, so why would you ever do it?

What fans truly remember are the teams that did the unthinkable. They outlasted, they beat down, and they destroyed every single team that stood in their way. Not 75 percent of their opponents, not 95 percent, not even 99 percent. Fans remember the teams that win every single time they step out there.

With the fanfare and attention this team is getting, a loss only takes that away. A loss points out their failures, it exposes their shortcomings and it creates doubt in the minds of players that simply don’t think they will lose.

This team is too confident to lose. A loss tells them they aren’t what they may think they are. Yes, they will undoubtedly enter the NCAA Tournament as the top seed or favorite, regardless if they enter it undefeated. But do you really want to see another 38-2 or 37-3 team win the National Championship? We’ve seen that before, we’ll see it again.

But what we haven’t seen in 39 years and may not see for another 39 is perfection. Wouldn’t a change of pace be a little bit better?

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