This shocks me more than it probably shocks you. I am not basing this belief on anything that John Calipari has said in the past. I believe that in the long run, he is full of lies and deceit. I believe that his eyes would be brown even if he wore blue contacts. However, when he says that he is staying put at Kentucky, I actually believe him 100%.
You just knew that as soon as Coach Cal could finally close the deal with the Wildcats, that the NBA whispers would begin. A lot of “stuff” would be thrown at the wall to see if it could stick. We didn’t even make it two days into the offseason for college basketball, and there have been suggestions that the New York Knicks might target Calipari if things with Phil Jackson don’t workout. They are probably the only team in the NBA that would pay him more per season than what he makes in Lexington, which is around $4.65 million, with the potential to up that above $5 million per if he hits incentives next year. But I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Calipari get another bump in pay from the University sometime in the next few months. Remember where Kentucky fell to under Billy Gillespie, and where they are just three years into Calipari’s tenure. Back-to-back trips to the Final Four, and a National Title. That’s an open-the-checkbook kind of accomplishment.
I know we hear coaches say one thing about never wanting to leave and how they got it so great, and that they aren’t in communication with other teams, blah blah blah. And for context, here is what Calipari said to ESPN’s Andy Katz
“Kentucky is the best job in basketball coaching. Why would I leave? We just won the national title. We’re chasing UCLA.”
I agree with him. Kentucky is the best job in basketball coaching. Especially when you are winning. If he wasn’t meeting expectations, like Tubby Smith and Billy Gillespie, it sucks. The pressure is always there, but the pressure is much easier to deal with when you are winning basketball games all the time. Calipari has that. He is already a great recruiter and always has been. This isn’t about how he lands them, but he does. Now he has the cache of being in Lexington, as opposed to Memphis or UMass. Recruiting couldn’t be easier for him. He gets the best basketball players in the country to play for him, amasses more talent than anyone, then rolls the ball out on the court and tells them to go play. Why would anyone want to leave that? He’s a god on that campus. Because Rick Pitino eventually went to rival Louisville, Calipari has pretty much surpassed him in Kentucky lore.
I don’t think Calipari’s failure in the NBA is something to take into consideration. The Nets were a doomed organization while he was there, especially being saddled with Stephon Marbury. It didn’t work out, so he settled himself into a good gig for years at Memphis before landing the jackpot at UK. I don’t think Calipari really cares about proving himself to anyone. I think he is about winning basketball, and making a ton of money. When he left UMass for the Nets, consider that UMass was about to be smacked. Whether or not we believe him to be involved is inconsequential. But he knew that if he stayed, that winning wasn’t going to be as easy, and he wasn’t going to be able to make that kind of money again. So he took the job in NJ. When that didn’t workout, he bided his time and regrouped. Made decent money in Memphis for 9 seasons, then scored huge with Kentucky. Remember, winning and money. Now he has both. I don’t think he wants to lose that and risk the gamble in the NBA.
That’s where Calipari is right now. Could that change in a few years? Maybe. Especially if he somehow leads Kentucky to their 12th National Title while there. Maybe then the itch to try something different will need to be scratched. David Stern may love the Knicks, and the Knicks fans may believe they are the center of the basketball world, but I don’t think the position of being the Knicks coach matters that much to anyone. The Celtics? Sure. The Lakers? Of course. That’s where it pretty much ends. Maybe if the New York had actually won something since 1973, they would actually have more prestige to others.
Cal is staying put. His agent will answer some phone calls, but the conversation will never get by the initial interaction. Calipari is a Kentucky Wildcat, and he isn’t going anywhere. We should just get used to that.
H/T Yahoo! Sports