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Good Kip

Kip wants it.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

You think Kip wants it?

I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m best friends with Kipper Nichols (I’m not, but I was in an elevator with him once), but I interviewed him a bunch of times when I was covering the Illini. Plus, I’m an Illini fan who has been through a lot of pain and heartbreak and suffering (in my short 23 years).

So while you might say Ayo or Kofi or Dee or Deron or Deon or Kendall or Brandon or someone else embodies you’re Illini fandom, mine might be Kipper Nichols.

Not gonna lie, I kinda hate saying that, but I think it’s all I got.

When Kip showed up at Illinois when I was a sophomore in 2016, he couldn’t play until the game at the United Center at BYU. That team was good (as in they almost made the NCAA Tournament), but bad (as in they missed the NCAA Tournament). My four years in school? That was the closest the team ever got. Hell, that was the only time they played in the NIT, that’s how bad it was.

When the Illini lost to Iowa in the 2018 Big Ten Tournament in New York, it was FEBRUARY 28TH! THEY DIDN’T EVEN MAKE IT UNTIL MARCH!

Only guy left on this team from that 2016-17 team though? Kip.

I guess, in a weird way, once he leaves, part of me leaves. Everyone else was there for only half my time in school, of course when I was the biggest of an Illini fan I’ll ever be. And now, he’s basically done.

But, he’s taking me — and us — along for the ride.

Sure, we make fun of ‘Good Kip’ and ‘Bad Kip.’

But it’s because Kipper Nichols isn't supposed to be the savior of this team (even if I thought he was in 2016). Instead, he’s just the role player who found his role on Brad Underwood’s roster and didn’t leave, even when we were so sure he was going to. (Did you think Kip would have a Senior Day at Illinois?)

And that’s where we are today.

Kipper Nichols was honored with the three other seniors on the roster (including two walk-ons), and had the game of his life. He made this second-half run exist, and pushed the Illini ahead. He had a ‘Good Kip’ game.

He’s a very happy guy, and he’s one of the ones who will go pro in something other than sports.

But for the time he’s an Illini, I want to see Kip have all the success in the world.

He’s my spirit animal on this team obviously.

So, thank you, Good Kip.