NEW ORLEANS — Women are willing to lose their clothes — all of them.
Grown men have lost their composure.
Fans lost some skin Wednesday night on Bourbon Street.
There are a few rivalries in sports — Yankees/Red Sox; Auburn/Alabama; Lakers/Celtics — that bring out the good, the bad and the ugly in fans.
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Even the coaches — Kentucky’s John Calipari and Louisville’s Rick Pitino — allowed themselves to get lost in the moment yesterday.
They were asked about the now infamous fist fight this week at a Kentucky dialysis center between a 68-year-old Kentucky fan and a 71-year-old Louisville fan.
“Did we win the fight?’’ asked Pitino.
Yep. Charles ‘The Comeback Card,’ Taylor clocked Ed ‘Fast Cat’ Wilson in a one-punch affair
“The Louisville fan punched out the Kentucky fan?’’ said Calipari. “I’m disappointed about that.’’
There is no scheduled rematch between Taylor and Wilson but the Cards and Cats will throw down in an NCAA tournament semifinal game.
This is not one of those games of the century. This is for eternal shame and fame in the Bluegrass State.
“I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it,’’ Kentucky guard Doron Lamb of Queens told The Post. “But I could see that happening. I know our schools hate each other.’’
“Two senior citizens?’’ asked Louisville point guard Peyton Siva. “Was it on ESPN’s Top 10? The rivalry is crazy. These fans love their Cards and they love their Cats.’’
“I wouldn’t expect a 68-year-old and a 71-year-old to fight each other, but they love their teams.’’
How much? Consider this.
“I was walking through the mall and a Kentucky fan asked me for a ticket to the game,’’ said Louisville guard Chris Smith. “She said if I give her a ticket to the game that we win, she’ll run on the court butt naked.’’
Was she pretty?
“No,’’ said Smith.
This rivalry has an ugly side. Louisville began recruiting black players in 1962. Kentucky didn’t until 1969, after one of Adolph Rupp’s team lost to an all-black Texas Western team in the 1966 NCAA title game.
Kentucky had always refused to play Louisville and that might have held had the teams not met in the 1983 NCAA Mideast Regional final. The Cards blew away the Cats, 80-68, in overtime.
Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown mandated the schools play each other every year since. Kentucky leads the series 18-11 but the schools are 2-2 in NCAA tournament games.
“It all started with the racial lines in Louisville, Kentucky,’’ said Pitino, who coached Kentucky to the 1996 NCAA championship. “We’re the minority university and they’re the university of the privileged. so to speak.
“And then it was thrown out the window when Tubby Smith became the first African-American coach. The hatred wasn’t based on race any longer. That was over. Now the lines are no longer racially motivated. It’s just pure hatred.’’
Calipari steered clear of the rhetoric. His No.1-ranked team is 36-2 and the prohibitive favorite to win tomorrow. The last thing he needs is to shine more of a spotlight on his Cats.
“It’s always been that way, it’s Louisville and Kentucky,’’ said Calipari. “The thing with us, at this time of the year, rivalries do not matter.
“You’re playing a basketball game and whether the schools are 15 miles away from you or a thousand miles away from you, you’re trying to advance.’’
The schools are 77 miles apart and they watch each other like sentries on the border of North and South Korea. Louisville recently built the $238 million KFC Yum! Center. Kentucky countered with a $150 million renovation of Rupp Arena.
Wednesday a group of inebriated Louisville fans and an equally soused group of Kentucky fans tried to turn Bourbon Street into Beatdown Street.
“Now that we get to play them in the Final Four, it’s more over the top,’’ said Smith. “This is for all the marbles.’’
Unless everyone loses their marbles first.
John Calipari, Louisville, Kentucky, Rick Pitino, John Y. Brown, NCAA tournament, NCAA tournament