Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Sonny Boggs was born and raised here.
He has killed and eaten bear, elk and deer in various parts of America.
He served a 13-month stint in Iraq ending in 2003, lost his hearing as a result and now wears a hearing aid in his right ear.
“I made it home with all my limbs,” said Boggs, a cab driver who took me to Rupp Arena Saturday before No. 1 Kentucky edged No. 5 North Carolina, 73-72, on Anthony Davis’s block of a John Henson jumper in the final seconds before more than 24,000 fans.
“Some guys had it a lot rougher than I did so I’m not going to complain. We had four guys from our unit that was killed.”
But for all Boggs has experienced in this life, he is still waiting on one thing.
He wants to see John Calipari win an NCAA championship at Kentucky.
Sonny needs to see that more than seeing a bunch of one-and-done players come in and out of Lexington every year. John Wall, Boogie Cousins and Brandon Knight — all one-and-done — sat courtside.
The Kentucky-Carolina game featured as many as 10 first-round NBA Draft picks, including four or five from Kentucky. Davis is the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
“Personally, locally, I think it’s more important to see a championship here,” Sonny said.
“He does a good job of recruiting players, but in the end we lose them all to the NBA,” Sonny added of Calipari. “You can’t blame the players for going.”
When Kentucky beat North Carolina in the Elite Eight last year in Newark, Kentucky President Dr. Lee Todd climbed a ladder and cut down a piece of the net representing Kentucky’s first Final Four appearance since 1998.
Speaking in reference to Calipari’s previous two Final Fours being vacated — with UMass in 1996 and Memphis in 2008 — Dr. Told said, “He convinced me that this banner won’t come down.”
Calipari’s 2011 Final Four banner now hangs aloft at Rupp next to the seven championship banners the school has also won.
No matter what happened here today, and no matter how many one-and-dones come through Lexington, until Calipari hangs another banner — his first representing a championship — Sonny Boggs and many in Big Blue Nation won’t be fully satisfied.
And what if Kentucky does end up winning a title with this young team, for Calipari’s first in Lexington?
“It would be utter chaos,” Sonny said. “It would be a good day in Lexington.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.