The pairing of John Calipari and Kentucky Wildcats basketball was one that was made in heaven. In about a month and a half, Calipari had charged into Lexington and started signing five-star player after five-star player. When the dust was cleared, Kentucky had the number one ranked recruiting class in the nation, and the number one team in the land soon after. The season included a 19-0 start to the season, a phone call from President Obama, a SEC regular season title and a tourney title, and an Elite Eight appearance. After a cold shooting performance knocked UK out of the NCAA, Kentucky then had five players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft. And after a near perfect first season, that darn John Calipari opened his yap and committed his first real faux pas as Kentucky’s head coach. Or did he?
After the historic NBA Draft, John Calipari made the following comment:
“We’re a players-first program,” Calipari said. “And we might have just had the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history with a No. 1 pick and five first-round picks.”
And like that, members of the Big Blue Nation and the national media turned on John Calipari as if he had made a Rex Chapman style #Done Deal comment.
“Surely, Calipari could not be serious”, they cried. “The biggest day in the Kentucky Wildcats basketball history? Bigger than the days Kentucky won title one through seven? Or hired Adolph Rupp? Or even Rick Pitino?”
And at the time, Calipari’s comments seemed wrong. Disrespectful. Embarrassing. Many thought that Calipari had an overdose of ego and was a maniacal monster destined to ruin college basketball with his one and done players and his tweeting and his daring to bring the best players in the country in Lexington. And Calipari caught hell.
The thing is, Calipari had a chance to clarify his comments and put them into context. And even after that, people still did not get it. Here is a Tennessee site’s version of Calipari’s comments a day or two after the “biggest day” controversy exploded.
Calipari offered the message during Monday’s SEC Basketball coaches’ teleconference.
“I made the statement, and I’ll make it again, that it (NBA Draft) was the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history,” Calipari said, “and I wasn’t talking to the past. I was talking to the future.”
There’s nothing taken out of context there. No rest of the quote. Nothing omitted.
Calipari certainly had reason to be proud UK made history by becoming the first team in NCAA history to produce five first-round NBA draft picks in a single year.
But to say it was the biggest day in history for a traditional powerhouse with seven national championships?
Calipari’s attempt to somehow justify that comment on the SEC teleconference failed.
“It was a two-hour infomercial for our league, for the University of Kentucky, and it will speak volumes for the next five years, maybe longer — that’s what I meant by it,” Calipari said, still defending his ridiculous statement.
No, after five years of the Calipari era, was his statement that ridiculous? Not at all. Man is turning into a regular Nostradamus.