Let me preface this by saying I am an old man that graduated from UL in the 60's and have followed Cards basketball since the 50's. I left Louisville in the 70's and live in Las Vegas after stops in California. I am not very good at being politically correct. Teasing and funny nicknames were part of everyone's youth back in the old days. I think I learned something recently.
A couple of days ago I watched the NBA draft along with everyone in the State of Kentucky. It was hard to watch teams throw away draft selections on players that "two years from now will be two years away" rather than drafting an All American Guard who despite his physical limitations had made himself into an incredible player. The best at his position. One of the top 10 players in College Basketball. No one even mentioned his name as being the best option available until Philadelphia took him and the draft and the traded him to New Orleans. How Come?
Yes he is 6 feet tall and weighs a buck 60 soaking wet. He also won a ton of hardware in a career that included a freshman year where he barely saw the court . Everyone here is well aware of his contributions to Louisville Basketball and the community since then. Somewhere along the road he picked up the Nickname "Russdiculous" from Coach Rick Pitino. Maybe out of a mixture of frustration and love. I am not sure.
Here comes the lesson part. We live and die with the Cards. Almost no body else in the US does. The only thing they notice are cute names and what they read in the press. College basketball fans are always looking for ways to criticize players on opposing teams. The press for the most part are human and pick up on things just like everyone else. It is easy to look for the ridiculous to reinforce an image so readily supplied by someone in the know when you aren't actually watching a performance. At the time I wasn't crazy about the nickname I thought it sounded stupid. Russ was and is just fine. He did a hundred things that were exceptional and some that weren't. He got a lot of heat from his coach in the press that stuck. Coach Pitino can be emotional and hence say things that he only means at the moment he says them. A seven overtime game where the Team Captain and point guard was on the bench watching when Russ launched an ill advised desperation shot helped cement the nickname to the uneducated. At this point the name sounded like it fit in a way that it wasn't meant to. Russ Smith "the Most Valuable Player on both teams"
As I mentioned I live in Las Vegas and most of the Basketball fans the come through here have one image of Russ Smith. "Russdiculous" Out of control and not someone that anyone in their right mind would want running their NBA team. That might be the opinion of management in most NBA teams that allowed them to ignore one of the top players in the country for so long. I can't think of another player that coach ever gave any sort of nickname. I know his intentions are to help not hurt every kid that comes through his program. He may have let one slip by this time. I feel like Russ Smith was a plenty good name and he might have gone a little earlier in the draft and made a little more real money if he hadn't ever been "Russdiculous" Of course if he was three inches taller I might not be writing this.
I would like to apologize to everyone I ever made fun of by calling them any one of the ten thousand weird names I gave them. And for everyone that made fun of me with a nickname "Call me that again and I will hire someone to kick your ass. I am too old to do it myself"