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King James holds court at Rupp Arena

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MBSK 09_10 UK_Vandy Web Early 05.jpgLebron James never went to Kentucky and never really even considered going to college. But kind of like the son a father never had, James is the player Kentucky never had. Or didn't have.

Because after Saturday's Kentucky-Vanderbilt game, it's become apparent that James has become UK's adopted son. Had King James ever gone to college and John Calipari been the coach in Lexington, it's a pretty sure bet that James would have chosen Kentucky.

At the very least he's become a Kentucky adopted son.

James, arguably the most iconic figure in sports and the face of the NBA, sat courtside for Saturday's UK-Vanderbilt game. Dressed in a gray and blue striped sweater, James sat not even 50 feet from the Kentucky bench.

Not that Calipari noticed.

"I forgot he was there and I was losing my mind in the first half," Calipari said "I saw him in the hallway (at halftime) and said, 'You showed up? When did you get here?' I was worried about him coming because it's another distraction, so I was hoping with the snow maybe he wouldn't come, but they responded."

They relished in it.

DeMarucs Cousins joked around with him, DeAndre Liggins got his autograph and the players played with a surprising calmness, overcoming the season's first loss with an 85-72 win over No. 21 Vanderbilt.

"It was great," junior forward Patrick Patterson said. "For LeBron James to take time out of his busy schedule - we know he has games, preparation, practice and other obligations to tend to - to come down here and support us and show his face means a tremendous amount to us. To have someone of his stature come to our game is motivation for us."

Calipari established a budding friendship with James a few years back, which has since blossomed. James took a personal tour of the Joe Craft Center as a "recruit" over the summer and vowed to come back for a UK game later this year.

Rumors ran rampant before a couple of games this season that James was going to be in the house, but that gossip never came to fruition. Until Saturday.

With the team wearing James' custom-made shoes, James braved the wintry weather conditions and strolled into Rupp Arena - without a king's red carpet, I might add - about midway through the first half.

During the second half, James was Kentucky's honorary "Y" during the spelling of Kentucky. James played the part brilliantly, spreading his 6-foot-8 frame to symbolize the Y.

"He's a good friend, a great guy, a great ambassador for basketball and obviously we wear his shoe," Calipari said. "He's proud of this team and this group. It would have been better if he was an alum, had played here and came back. They probably would have had about four more national titles up there."

One could only dream.

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