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Public enemy No. 1 Christian Laettner and team of villains score win at Rupp

Almost two decades after Christian Laettner stomped on University of Kentucky basketball player Aminu Timberlake, Wildcat fans finally saw him ejected from a game Monday.


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Laettner, serving as the coach of a team of “UK Villains,” gave the crowd what it wanted by orchestrating his own ejection in the final minutes of regulation of his team’s 152-149 win over the Big Blue All-Stars Monday in Rupp Arena. Despite his early exit, Laettner remained undefeated against all things UK.


“I don’t know if it’s destiny or what, but I’m going to have to figure out a way somehow to get this monkey of our back,” said All-Stars head coach and former UK standout Rex Chapman.


In an evening designed for UK fans to boo some of their most hated rivals — including former University of Louisville guard Terrence Williams, former University of North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough and former University of Florida guard Corey Brewer — Laettner once again stole the show by playing his part as public enemy No. 1 perfectly.


“There’s nothing wrong with booing and yelling and cursing somebody every once and awhile,” he said. “If I happen to be that person to let them vent, that’s perfectly fine.”


Laettner’s entrance during pre-game introductions received the loudest boos from the crowd and his ejection earned one of the loudest cheers, but the highlight of the night may have come when he decided to go along with a fan’s suggestion to wipe up the sweat on the Rupp Arena court.


With Laettner on all fours below one basket doing his best towel boy impression, the Rupp crowd came to it’s feet and perhaps finally got a little vindication.


“I thought it was a really good idea,” Laettner said. “They seemed to enjoy it. Everybody stood up and started taking little photos with their camera. Hopefully they’re Facebooking it, Twittering it and all that stuff.”


While Laettner and his Villains may have come out on top of the no-defense shootout, the night was also about returns from former UK standouts.


Wildcat alums Keith Bogans, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Knight, Nazr Mohammed, Jodie Meeks, DeAndre Liggins, Chuck Hayes and Josh Harrellson suited up for the “good guys.” Even Enes Kanter — who never actually played for UK after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA — finally got a chance to play in front of the Big Blue Nation.


“I finally got to play in Rupp Arena,” he said.


Most of the NBA stars on the court Monday — who were able to play in the game because of the league’s current lockout — were not in “game shape,” but some of the former UK stars gave performances that had Wildcat fans fondly remembering their time on campus.


Meeks led all scorers with 42 points, perhaps reminding fans of his record-breaking junior season in which he topped the 30-point plateau seven times and set a school record with a 54-point performance at Tennessee.


“It’s always in these type of games you come out, try to get loosed up and try to have some fun,” Meeks said. “Then when it gets down to the fourth quarter you always try to win.”


When Hayes completed a behind-the-back, no-look pass to Meeks for a layup to highlight a run by the All-Stars, he even let loose with a galloping dance down the sideline.


“I was just excited,” he said. “We were on a run. The fans were into it. I just got caught up in the moment.”


Hayes, Meeks and the other All-Stars each experienced their fair share of Rupp Arena moments in their UK careers. The image of Laettner mopping up sweat on the Rupp Arena floor can now be added to that list.


“I think the Kentucky fans had fun tonight,” He said. “Hopefully they did.”


Photos by Mark Boxley.


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