Lifestyle & Belief

Kentucky-Louisville rivalry spills into … dialysis clinic


Louisville Cardinals' Chris Smith shoots during a 69-62 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on Dec. 31, 2011, in Lexington, Ken. The storied rivals meet again tonight with a berth in the national championship Final Four on the line.


Andy Lyons

When basketball fans say they bleed Kentucky blue or Louisville red, they aren’t kidding.

The Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals meet tonight in an NCAA men’s basketball Final Four semifinal, and you won’t need Earth hour to convince those in that state to turn off all the lights and shut the doors.

Turning off the TV? Forget about it.

You can be sure Charles Taylor and Ed Wilson won’t be far from the clicker.

Taylor is a 71-year-old Louisville fan, while Wilson, 68, cheers for Kentucky. They crossed paths during a kidney dialysis session earlier this week.

“He just happened to think U of L would beat UK and he started to run his mouth,” Wilson said, ESPN reported. “That’s what started it.”

“He was meddling,” Taylor said, according to ESPN. “And told me to shut up and gave me the finger. I went up to him and I hit him. Didn’t hit him that hard, but I hit him.”

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Police didn’t pursue charges.

The rivalry dates back to 1913, but it took government intervention for them to meet again after skipping a large part of the 20th century.

Kentucky fans – blue bloods and blue grass – don’t necessarily mix with the urbanites of Louisville, The Associated Press reported.

“We get along with most of them, as long as they don't talk to you,” Wildcats fan Pat Stahl told the AP.

Tonight’s winner advances to the national championship. The teams have met four times in the NCAA tournament, splitting them evenly.

Kentucky has seven championships, while Louisville boasts two.

The schools are 70 miles apart, and the hyperbole is at an all-time high.

“I would say this is probably the most amped-up Final Four game in college basketball history,” Louisville guard Peyton Siva told the Los Angeles Times.

Kentucky – a top seed this year – won by seven points when the Wildcats beat fourth-seeded Louisville earlier this season.

It means Louisville is the underdog.

“It would be like the (Kentucky) Derby on crack,” Cardinals’ guard Chris Smith said of a potential upset.

State politicians are likely wise to stay neutral.

“If the excitement and frenzy and turbulence that's been stirred up in Kentucky this week could be harnessed, we could solve our energy crisis,” Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said, the AP reported. "Basketball fans from Kentucky have been waiting their whole lives for this game."

Even Kentucky coach John Calipari suggested remaining quiet lest you invite the wrath of rabid Kentucky fans.

“If you're going to attack Kentucky, just be right," he told the AP. "I'm just telling you: piranha — wahp-wahp-wahp-wahp-wahp-wahp. They'll come and eat your yard, your house. These people are nuts."

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