Forget for a moment that the calendar reads July 30 and that college the college basketball season is still over three months away from starting. John Calipari takes no time for an offseason and as a result is probably the most press accessible and quote worthy coach in college basketball. The off-season has been a virtual summer long John Calipari press conference from the National Championship game, to the release of his book to the NBA coaching drama to the Bahamas Tour. It has been all Cal all the time and the pundits have plenty of Calipari quotes galore.
John Rothstein over at CBS had the opportunity to sit down with John Calipari and they talked about the mass influx of players returning to the NBA speculation. It should come as no shock to anyone that Calipari has touted the “Players First” program but some of Calipari’s quotes may still rub some Kentucky bluebloods the wrong way. Calipari reiterated once again that Kentucky is a players first program and that the returning players came back not for the program, but for themselves.
So I had all 12 guys in my office and I said, ‘Did you come back for me or this program?’ They all laughed, because their choice to come back had nothing to do with me or the state of Kentucky. It had to do with me getting them more prepared. So now you have four kids who said they need us and me to prepare them for the rest of their lives. If I came back after that and left, it’s a tough move. That was solely the reason. Now people are saying that I’ll never leave here. You know what, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be in this position every year. I’ll be happy as hell if that happens, because that means my team comes back. And then when you have guys say that I’m going to leave, my thing is, ‘If you were offered X amount of dollars, would you leave?’ And I stayed.
To be honest, I really have no problems with the comments although some may take offense. Part of college is about preparing students for a career after school and well the NBA is probably as tough as any career program to get into. Almost as a retort, Calipari had an answer for those that think Cal is just concerned with getting players to the league. Cal’s five-year resume at Kentucky speaks for itself.
And people say I only want guys in the NBA. Well, let’s see. We’ve won more games than everybody, we’ve went to three Final Fours, we’ve went to two final games, we could have won three national titles. I hate to tell you but we could have won four, because my first year was my most talented team. We weren’t an execution team, though. If that team in 2010 was an execution team we would have lost no games. But we weren’t. We started too many young guys who didn’t have enough experience to be able to do that. But this is unique. I’m not sure anybody has ever been in this type of position to help these many kids doing it this way.