Everyone has an opinion on John Calipari; and usually a strong one. Like they say in the Batman movies “you either a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.” If you’re indifferent to John Calipari, you won’t be after reading this.
You’ll see Coach Cal as either a.) a revolutionary visionary and social trail blazer or b.) playing the victim card and soliciting sympathy while at the same time running the biggest blue blood of all blue blood programs.
As I said in a previous post, Kentucky basketball has become a de facto NBA D-League team.
The Kentucky basketball program has seen a record 20 signees play in the McDonald’s All-American game since John Calipari’s arrival. That’s why these days, the MCDAAG is pretty much next year’s Kentucky Wildcats freshmen class, the All-Star game is their Developmental League, and then the year after next year’s NBA Draft first round. It’s a pipeline/revolving/door/re-loading.
So yesterday I joined the national media Final Four coaches conference call to ask Coach Cal about his top notch recruiting. Another reporter beat me to the punch, asking him in much more fawning manner than I would have. The reporter was what Calipari’s secret is; why he’s so elite.
In the first part of his answer, John Calipari talked about what his recruiting habits were at UMass and Memphis. (read it here)
“There’s a combination of the parents understanding Kentucky, what it is, and the young people only know three years. The kids we recruit, all of us, they don’t know five years ago. They were 12 and 11, 10. They know the last three years.
When John Wall and Bledsoe and Cousins and Patterson went in that draft, Orton, five first-rounders, it changed the whole direction. The paradigm changed. It wasn’t like we planned it. I never thought Eric Bledsoe was one-and-done. No one thought that. He didn’t play the McDonald’s game. What about Josh Harrellson? What about DeAndre Liggins making it? That’s all crazy talk.
What’s happened is these kids understand they have to come together and we’re honest with them. This is the hardest place to come and play basketball. If you think this is going to be easy, don’t come here.”
“The second piece of it is, if you want to be the only guy that can play, don’t come here. If you want to take all the shots, go somewhere else. If you want to be on a team where the coach only highlights one or two guys, you better be one of those two guys. If you want to go there, go.
That’s not how it is here. Every game is the Super Bowl. You’re scrutinized because people are attacking me, so you’re going to get scrutinized because they want to come after me. What we’re doing has never been done. You can’t do this. So you’re getting that hit. If you can’t deal with all that, don’t come here.
That’s a heck of a sale, isn’t it?”
There’s a thin line between love and hate, but as Ayn Rand said “indifference, not hate, is the opposite of love.”
So after reading that do you sympathize with John Calipari, the man who’s trying to something that’s never been done? Do you applaud his ambition and vision? His creativity to work against the NCAA cartel?
Do you commiserate with the man who described his squad as “the most over-analyzed team in history?”
Or do you feel John Calipari deserves all of his antagonists and more? That a man who’s first two Final Fours were vacated due to…well, the reputation of John Calipari precedes him. One thing’s for sure. Whatever your opinion of Coach Cal either way. It just became much stronger.
Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent commentator on national talk radio. The former NBC Chicago and Washington Times contributor has also been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks