Quick, now. What is it you love and hate at the same time?

Your weird uncle… 

A team (any sport, pro or college) that consistently makes a deep playoff run but falls short (again) of a championship…

That medicine your doctor claims will clear up whatever you have – but it tastes like hot garbage…

All legitimate, but let me offer a submission upon which I believe we’ll all agree:

Social media.

Remember when you were signing up for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat et al and one of your sour friends grumbled that they refused to be a part of it?  They seem pretty smart right about now, don’t they?

Please believe, I’m not the old man shaking his fist at a cloud. Social media can be like ice cream – fun and immediately gratifying.  But if it hits you wrong, the headache that comes with brain freeze can be just this side of kidney stone-painful.

Way, WAY too many people spill themselves onto their keyboards and press “send” without giving it a second thought, especially when their favorite team has just lost a game it had no business losing (at least, that’s the way the typist sized things up).

Travel back with me now to a time, two weeks prior to Christmas, when the Big Blue Nation piled en masse onto the world wide web to wail and gnash collective teeth about the basketball Wildcats.

More than a month prior they had battled then 9th-ranked Duke to an eight-point loss before blitzing through a spate of “tuneup” games in Rupp Arena, a worksheet dubbed “The Magnificent Seven” by a wag far more clever than I. 

Oscar Tshiebwe scored 25 points but was well below his average of 15 rebounds in the loss at Notre Dame

Then came the trip to South Bend, Indiana, where Touchdown Jesus presided over an upset by a Notre Dame team not expected to ring down much thunder this season.

The internet lit up, Wildcat fans hurrying to: A) write off the season; B) ruminate on how much talent UK has wasted over the past decade and C) speculate on what kind of coach should displace the guy currently on the job.

Today, that same internet web nearly glistens with praise and discussions of a Final Four run for a Kentucky team that shot 2-of-19 and allowed the Irish to win the rebound battle, 26-23. My, how things have changed.

At home before adoring eyes or on the road in a pit of hostility, John Calipari’s club has taken its place among a variety of teams that could hoist the big trophy in April, provided it stays healthy.

And if it does break through to Kentucky’s first Final Four in six seasons, this team will take its place among others that would have been trashed by social media experts early in the season before developing into one of the nation’s elite:

— Way, WAY before social media and even message boards appeared, basketball fans would have to gather in person to whine and complain. UK fans had a lot to bitch about in December, 1957. Adolph Rupp’s team had lost three of four, including a UKIT setback to West Virginia and a kid named Jerry West.

The Wildcats beat Seattle, led by Elgin Baylor, in the 1958 title game

  They straightened up well enough to win the SEC title with a 12-2 conference record, then shocked the nation, both Blue and otherwise, by winning the Rupp’s fourth NCAA title.

  Johnny Cox, Vernon Hatton, Adrian Smith and company got to sleep in their own beds throughout the tournament. Memorial Coliseum hosted the Mideast Regional (there were only four rounds in the tournament back then) and the Final Four was at Freedom Hall in Louisville, where the Cats beat Seattle, despite 25 points and 19 rebounds from Elgin Baylor. Hatton went for 30; Cox had 24 points and 16 rebounds.  

   Big Blue critics relaxed. The days of electronically demanding a coach’s job were decades away.

Joe Hall would have the last laugh over Bob Knight in 1975

— Bloomington, Indiana, Dec. 7, 1974. Joe B. Hall’s UK team, fresh off a 13-13 season, is manhandled by Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers. Knight, himself, manhandles Joe B’s noggin with a cuff to the back of his head. Social media would have crucified both coaches, amplifying the demands for Hall’s job that had begun early in the season prior.  Skip ahead to March 22, 1975, the NCAA Mideast Regional final – the day the Wildcats got their revenge with an upset of undefeated IU, grabbing a spot in the Final Four. The Hall Haters had to hold their big blue tongues.

— A 19-day span starting Jan. 23, 1978, when the top-ranked Wildcats lost at Alabama and then at LSU in overtime, with every Tiger starter fouling out. Social media would have exploded in despair. Five weeks later, the Wildcats would win their fifth NCAA championship. All was forgiven.

— Valentine’s Day, 1998, was anything but sweet for the Wildcats as Ole Miss came to town and whipped the home team, 73-64 despite a career-high 31 points from Cameron Mills. Scores of UK fans threw up their hands in despair over first-year coach Tubby Smith. 

  What they didn’t know was, that loss led to a players-only meeting, where the consensus was, the Cats needed to stop chafing at the way the new guy was running the team.  

  With all the oars in the water finally pulling the same way, Kentucky never lost again, cutting down the nets in March. 

Critics had to swallow their pride – and comments – when Tubby Smith led the Cats to the 1998 title

— December 14, 2002. Kentucky has a one-point lead with a minute left against Michigan State. Tubby Smith surprises everyone by putting his team in a zone. The Spartans begin to panic, desperately searching for a shot. With the shot clock dissolving, former walk-on Tim Bograkos, who hadn’t even attempted a three-pointer that season, knocks one down from the deep corner. State goes on to win, 71-67.

   Two weeks later, Kentucky loses at Louisville, 81-63 as former Wildcat Marvin Stone, in what would be his only relevant performance for The Ville, goes for a game-high 16.  Message boards bubble with rage at the UK coach. 

      Kentucky would not lose for the next 26 games, the streak ending when Keith Bogans suffers a high-ankle sprain prior the the NCAA regional final against Dwyane Wade and Marquette.

  Critics who’d been at full throat in December had to swallow their rage.

Eight months later, My Space was born. The following year came Facebook and two years after that, Twitter. It’s never been easier to complain and criticize – for better or worse.

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