I have to admit that by now, we are pretty much used to the annual John Calipari to the NBA rumors. But I don’t think that the rumors have ever started before Thanksgiving … which gives us plenty to write about. Let’s face it. As long as the Knicks keep getting worse and UK is a national title contender, the noise is going to get louder. For this mornings edition of the Five, I checked in on what a couple of my favorite national columnists had to say.
First, Mike DeCourcy is hands down, the best college basketball writer around. DeCourcy says that money probably would not be the deciding factor and mentions that Cal still has money from his New Your Nets settlement that he can never spend. But what about the other reasons for Cal to take the job, if offered?
The chance to show he can “get it done” at the NBA level after struggling in his first trip to the league? If it’s really about personal challenges here, who appears more imposing as an opponent at this moment: Erik Spoelstra or Bill Self? Mike Krzyzewski or Terry Stotts? The NBA has some extraordinary basketball coaches, but it’s not like the old days when Don Nelson, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, Larry Brown and Pat Riley were holding court. Brown’s in college now, you’ll recall.
If the Knicks somehow could promise Calipari they could completely realign their roster in order to have a genuine chance at free agent LeBron James and some guys he’d be willing to play with, perhaps that might be an attractive enough incentive. But there’s nobody like that already in place, excepting maybe Chandler, and Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can tie up nearly $50 million in cap space next season if they wish. And owner James Dolan’s reputation is so soiled it’s hard to imagine either James or Calipari wanting anything to do with the perpetual Knicks mess.
Greg Doyel is another of my favorite writers and unlike a lot of national media types, he understands the Kentucky fanbase and appreciates the passion and does not live to troll them. Any Doyel story on UK is a must read in this one, he asks how the UK fans would react if Cal left, and in the end, admits he would like to see Cal stick around in Kentucky a while longer.
Having said all that, I’m sort of hoping Calipari stays at Kentucky. I understand the draw of the NBA, and the desire he may well have to show his time with the Nets wasn’t the best he has to offer that league. But the fit between Calipari and Kentucky is something special, and I’m not in the business of trying to hurry special out the door.
I know that this is probably a dissenting view for most Kentucky fans, but some people are not all that thrilled with the constant televising of high school players college choices. Cliff Hawkins drew the ire of Illinois fans when he pump faked an Illini hat before picking Kansas. And Pat Disabito actually has a agood point concerning these press events as most of these televised players are just announcing where they will be for the next year … not four. It’s not like ESPN is going to stop televising these though, but it’s an interesting point of view.
The purity of high school sports is growing dimmer by the season, folks — similar to the three-sport athlete.
I know I’m dreaming, but I’d love to see the day when a parent of a nationally ranked local prospect refuses to allow his or her son or daughter to be involved in a similar conference. “Sorry. I don’t think holding a press conference represents the values I want to instill in my son or daughter,” the parent would say. “This isn’t about him. Basketball is a team sport, and my son would not be where he is without the hard work of his teammates, coaching staff and school administration. There are dozens of other athletes in this high school who work just as hard as my son. We appreciate the offer, but feel it’s not in our best interests.”
I know. I’m dreaming. High schools often arrange miniature “press conferences” for student-athletes who are signing a National Letter of Intent. Each student-athlete, no matter the sport or skill level, is treated equally. No TV cameras. No spotlight. Only a few members of local media.