The following is silly basketball fiction. None of this is real or intended to be any sort of commentary on actual events or people. It is mostly just an acknowledgement that we kind of sometimes go overboard when it comes to predictions and making definitive statements about sports that seem like they’re being said with each word capitalized in a sentence.
It is the year 2056. Dippin Dots are the only available ice cream. All other food is delivered in pill form. Streamed content goes directly to the glasses everyone is legally mandated to wear at all times. It is not so bad, all things considered.
To know why we are here you have to first know how we got here. It begins in 2015. It started with a simple question. Everyone took sides. Everyone always took sides. It was more important to be right than it was to feel. Anger rose up inside us all. We liked it. We craved it. We allowed it to shape how we perceived things as sensory as color.
“They aren’t that great.”
“They’re just too talented.”
“They haven’t taken a punch from a worthy adversary.”
“No one is even on their level.”
“They think they’re invincible.”
“I’ve never seen anything built like this before.”
“It simply can’t be done.”
“It will be done.”
That’s the thing about making a joke or a hyperbolic comment so many times. Eventually you say it so much you start to think it’s true. Actualization and all that.
That first year was harmless. An aberration. The next was memorable but hardly a large enough sample size to be alarmed. The third time? The word “legend” was thrown around the way it often is. It wasn’t until year seven or eight (who can be sure? the elder historians are so difficult to reach out at the Arch that it isn’t worth the trouble of bothering them in matters such as this) that it was too late.
The Dynasty was real. This was the New Platoon Order.
Eventually the question didn’t mean anything anymore. The question had to be altered. Can anyone beat Kentucky? Not hardly. Will anyone ever beat Kentucky again?
I see you are finally beginning to understand.
It was about Year 10 – the Year of the Wildcat, it was always the Year of the Wildcat – when it happened. It was now possible to know before a child was born which star ranking that child would be assessed. Leaders throughout the nation took the news with surprising aplomb. Not only did star rankings matter, they formed a caste system. You were your number. You wore your number with pride and dignity.
While everyone else fell all over themselves to establish a system capable of bringing in the right personnel to keep each respective program alive, Kentucky turned to science. The appropriate research was done at the College of Medicine on a project code named RUPP. After months in the lab they had a breakthrough: there wasn’t just a 0-5 star ranking the way we had always believed it to be. There was a sixth star.
The Coach was the only one with the knowledge of the sixth star, and now that he could identify those worthy of being given the mark of the Blue in the womb, he focused all his energy on those individuals while the others fought over the same crop of five-stars.
The results were astounding. There were close calls in the past. The Tip-In of 2018. 2021: The Overtime. 2022: Step Up 2 The OTs. The Time That Guy Missed Two Free Throws AKA Come On Arkansas Are You Serious Right Now. The list goes on and on.
But once a team could be assembled that had a star level previously undetected amongst the genome, it was game over. There were no more close calls.
If Kentucky wasn’t going to lose before, it sure as heck wasn’t about to give up its hold on the college basketball world after this.
At least not until Andy Toole had his say.
Toole had toppled The Coach long in the past at Robert Morris, and when it was clear that the Wildcats were becoming too powerful for their own good, Toole was summoned for the cause. Deep inside the YUM! Center a coalition had been formed to deal with the situation.
The worry wasn’t for basketball’s sake. The worry was instead that this group of six-stars were simply too fast, too long and too good at jumping to be merely basketball players. It wouldn’t just be platoons, it could be entire battalions of humans who were the best of the best. In the wrong hands with the wrong self-interests, these Wildcats could pose a threat to the very harmony of society.
A plan was forged, and in retrospect it was the only appropriate answer. Regular humans were never going to be able to beat genetically gifted humans. To beat Kentucky, we needed something inhuman.
We needed robots.
The coalition hired the best of the best remaining five-star minds to work on project Basketball Fever. The world’s more forward authority on artificial intelligence, Dr. Spike Jonze, was brought on to make sure the robots could think on their feet and gain the appropriate level of on-court awareness to do battle with the Wildcats. Plays were designed with the Laws of Robotics in mind. The bodies were formed with the lightest and most durable alloys known to man.
The first tests were run in the YUM! Center on July 18, 2053. A group of former All-Stars played Basketball Fever in a first-to-11 game with the hopes of running it back at least three or four more times after that. Basketball Fever won 11-0. The All-Stars were so deflated they left without saying a word.
That’s when Toole knew he was onto something. More tests were run. More games played, and the robots kept getting better. This thing had a chance. We had to at least try.
Can anybody beat Kentucky? Nobody can, at least no human body, that is. But human bodies can find the answer. Stars be damned, the robots are our only hope.