Salute, Don’t Scorn, Kentucky’s Starting Five

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By DERON SNYDER

According to its mission statement, the University of Kentucky is “dedicated to improving people’s lives through excellence in education, research and creative work, service and health care.” Judging by the success of its men’s-basketball players, the school is doing an outstanding job accomplishing its mission.

The Wildcats won the NCAA national championship earlier this month. On Tuesday the entire starting lineup — freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, along with sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb — entered the NBA draft in a nationally televised news conference.

The talented teammates, who demonstrated near-perfect unity on the court en route to a 38-2 season, displayed the same cohesiveness by departing in unison. “We made it work,” Jones said. “We all wanted to be there and do it together like we’ve done everything else together.”

Young, exceptional players can be tough to mold into a team, especially if their individual ambitions supersede the collective goals. But the Wildcats were selfless to a flaw, sacrificing personal stats and deferring to one another in a way that’s rare among their generation. And the results were breathtakingly beautiful, old-school basketball to satisfy the grumpiest purist’s soul.

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