At the risk of offending those who dismiss it as a “get-off-my-lawn” mentality I’m going to take up for Jeff Sheppard.
The former UK guard and MVP of the 1998 Final Four sparked a bit of controversy earlier today when KSTV posted a video of Sheppard’s comments at a UK fan convention in Ohio over the weekend. In it, Sheppard said he was not a fan of the one-and-done and he thought there was “maybe” too much celebrating NBA draft picks. Sheppard said he would rather celebrate national titles.
Some UK fans were outraged by the comments, even going as far as mocking Sheppard as old-fashioned, which is of course the go-to insult for those who can’t come up with a better argument.
Former Kentucky baseball coach Keith Madison came to Sheppard’s defense with a tweet saying, “@KySportsRadio Respectfully, Jeff Sheppard spent 5 years at Kentucky helping win 2 championships for the Cats. #LoyaltyShouldBeRespected.”
And when contacted by the C-J’s Kyle Tucker, Sheppard clarified his remarks.
But I don’t see where Sheppard’s original remarks were that out of line. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, but I think there are Kentucky fans who wish the one-and-done rule would go away — John Calipari is one of them, in fact — and are uneasy with the constant focus on helping get players to the NBA.
In fact, Sheppard’s use of the term “accept it” probably hits close to home for a lot of Kentucky basketball fans, even ones who have gladly celebrated the success of the last four years.
You don’t have to agree with Sheppard’s opinion, but I do think you should respect it.