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#pounditSunday, September 27, 2020

John Calipari

ESPN reporter addresses John Calipari grabbing her arm

John Calipari had an awkward exchange with an ESPN reporter during halftime of Tuesday night’s game against Kansas, but it does appear there are any hard feelings.

While expressing his frustrations over the Wildcats being out-hustled by Kansas and allowing too many second-chance baskets, Calipari grabbed ESPN’s Maria Taylor by the arm. It looked like Coach Cal just got caught up in the moment, and he realized that the contact may have been a bit excessive.

Some felt that Taylor was offended and/or felt uncomfortable, especially since she said “I’m not your player.” However, the reporter took to Twitter after the game — which Kansas won 65-61 — to say her arm is fine and she loves interviewing Calipari.

There has been some talk about Calipari being disrespectful to a female reporter, but he was hardly pulling a Cam Newton. In this particular instance, it looked like the coach just got carried away while having an animated discussion about the effort of his players.

Drake wears ‘Kentucky Dad’ hoodie, addresses crowd at Big Blue Madness

Drake Doris Burke shirt

Sorry, Ashley Judd — Drake is the most famous Kentucky basketball fan on the planet. The Wildcats super fan is a fixture at the basketball program’s biggest events.

Friday, the program had its Big Blue Madness event, and of course, Drake was there. He even spoke to the crowd and gave a hug to his friend, head coach John Calipari. He also wore a hoodie that read “Kentucky Dad.”

Speaking to the crowd, Drake called himself “a Wildcat through and through.”

The Canadian hip-hop star added that he’ll one day put on a free concert for students.

“I want my players and anyone out there to know if you want to emulate excellence, yet maintain humility, emulate Drake,” Calipari told the Courier-Journal. “If you want to emulate a strong drive, embracing the biggest stage and the goodness of a compassionate heart, you emulate Drake.”

In case you’re wondering, no — Drake didn’t put up any jumpers at this Big Blue Madness.

John Calipari vehemently denies Knicks rumors

John Calipari

John Calipari may be halfway across the planet, but it still didn’t take him long to respond to the rumors linking him to the New York Knicks.

Thursday afternoon, ESPN’s Ian Begley reported that a Calipari rep expressed interest in the Knicks’ presidency job on behalf of the coach.

Kentucky was asked to comment on the report and said Calipari was in Egypt for the FIBA World Cup and unavailable to comment.

Two hours later, Calipari woke up to the rumors and shot them down via Twitter:

This game is all too familiar for the successful Kentucky coach. His name gets linked to an opening and he quickly denies interest. Back in February, the rumors tied him to the Pelicans and his former player, Anthony Davis. This time it’s the Knicks.

Report: John Calipari expressed interest in Knicks presidency

John Calipari

Maybe the itch to compete in the NBA still hasn’t escaped John Calipari.

ESPN New York’s Ian Begley reported on Thursday that Calipari’s people reached out to the Knicks to express interest in their presidency.

Begley says the Knicks do not have interest in Calipari at the moment. Though it is unconfirmed, Begley presumes Calipari would be interested in a dual-job of coaching the Knicks in addition to leading the team’s front office.

The Knicks have a vacancy after firing Phil Jackson on Wednesday following three years under his leadership. GM Steve Mills is currently leading the team. Isiah Thomas has already shot down rumors about a potential return to the Knicks, while Begley has mentioned the team is interested in Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti for the job.

Calipari is one of the best coaches in college basketball and has been at Kentucky since 2009. He still may have an urge to return to the NBA and reshape his legacy after a largely unsuccessful tenure as head coach of the Nets from 1996-1999.

John Calipari opposed to 20-game league schedule, blames TV networks

John Calipari

The ACC has decided to increase the number of in-conference games a team has to play each season, and other conferences are considering doing the same. According to John Calipari, that is going to hurt the sport of college basketball.

With ACC teams set to play 20 in-conference games as opposed to 18 starting in 2019, Calipari believes fans are going to be robbed of some marquee matchups. He blames the television networks for that.

“They need more inventory for their own network so you just play more league games and then you have more inventory for your network to put on,” Calipari said Tuesday, via the Currier-Journal. “Hopefully in our case in this league (the Southeastern Conference) we stay where we are and if we don’t, we’ll make it work.”

Like they did with the SEC Network a few years back, ESPN has announced it will launch the ACC Network by August 2019. The Big Ten, which also has its own network owned by FOX Sports, is also leaning toward increasing its number of in-league games to 20 per season.

“What you do is, you take away some of those kind of games that have been good to us,” Calipari said. “North Carolina, for example: If they go to 20 games we won’t have any more series with North Carolina, so I’m not for it.”

Calipari added that increasing the number of in-conference games would prevent teams from improving their schedule the way they see fit.

“I think teams can use those last two games to put their own schedule together,” he said. “If you need a tougher game, if you have a rivalry game, if you need an easier game, if your team needs a team they can beat or a team they’re challenged by, if they need a road game, you can do it with those two games.”

Having matchups like Kentucky-North Carolina taken off the regular season college basketball slate would be a disappointment. Some of the most exciting games of the year happen when teams from different conferences square off, so we’re with Calipari on this one. Unfortunately, money talks.

John Calipari dodges question about ‘involved’ father LaVar Ball

John Calipari

If John Calipari has a negative opinion of LaVar Ball like so many others in the basketball world, the Kentucky coach is not going to share it.

TMZ caught up with Calipari at the BTIG charity event in New York City on Tuesday, and the coach was asked about UCLA star Lonzo Ball and his father. Calipari was quick to note that he has not followed all of the things LaVar has said, but he praised him for being an “involved” parent.

“I was so far removed that I don’t even know what that means. I know he’s involved,” Calipari said. “Fathers being involved aren’t always bad for these kids. They’ve got a loving relationship. I didn’t follow it that way.”

As for Lonzo, Calipari believes he has a shot to be a great player in the NBA.

“What I can say is the kid can really play,” he added. “He’s a competitor and has a will to win.”

The “loving relationship” Calipari spoke of with LaVar and Lonzo is a bit more than just that. Ball may have the best interests of his children in mind, but he has rubbed a number of people the wrong way with his outlandish comments and overconfidence. For example, LaVar said recently that he wants Lonzo’s rookie shoe deal to be in the $200 tier, which is extremely unrealistic.

At the moment, it looks like all of the major apparel companies are passing on shoe deals for Lonzo. Despite what Calipari thinks about how great it is for LaVar to be involved, you could make a case that he is damaging his son’s earning potential.

John Calipari signs two-year contract extension with Kentucky

John Calipari

John Calipari signed a two-year contract extension with Kentucky, the school announced on Wednesday.

The two-year deal runs through 2024 and calls for Calipari to make $8 million a year after next season. He will make $7.75 million next season.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a staement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball. We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Calipari, whose Wildcats will face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday, is looking to continue his “terrific ride.”

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

Calipari has been at Kentucky since 2009 and taken them to four Final Fours. He has won a national championship and five SEC regular season championships.

John Calipari quickly shoots down any talk of him leaving to coach Pelicans

John Calipari

John Calipari has been the subject of so many NBA rumors that he’s going out of his way to try to shut them down before they even get started now.

After two of his former Kentucky players, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, were reunited with the New Orleans Pelicans, Calipari responded to a non-serious question about leaving Kentucky to coach New Orleans with a very serious answer.

“Not happening,” Calipari said Monday on the Dan Patrick Show, via Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal.

In fact, Calipari said his former players don’t want to see him in the NBA.

“I’ve held every player I coached back, if you ask them,” Calipari said. “I’d rather be in the situation I’m in to be help, to be a mentor, whatever they need me to be.”

Calipari does think Cousins and Davis can work together, but cautioned that it will probably take some time to come together.

“(Cousins) and Anthony are going to have to figure it out together, and it takes time,” Calipari said. “It’s just not gonna happen in a week. It just doesn’t. … They’re two players that want to win, that like each other.”

Calipari was often linked to Sacramento when Cousins was there. He doesn’t sound very interested in those links continuing.

John Calipari responds to one-and-done critics

John Calipari

John Calipari has long been criticized by his detractors for recruiting too many one-and-done players, which they believe undermines the college system.

Calipari has been one of the best recruiters since his days at UMass, going to Memphis and then Kentucky. He has reached six Final Fours and won a national championship.

In an interview with Reid Forgrave for Bleacher Report, Calipari was asked about the one-and-done system being a “sham” and defended it.

“And they can come back and finish up!” Calipari said. “They can do it [finish school] whenever. Tell me what the issue is with that. And let me tell you this: For those of you that think what we’re doing is a sham: What if it were your child? Would you think it’s OK then?”

Calipari continues to pump out top recruits who then leave Kentucky for the NBA. Right now, most of his starting lineup is comprised of freshmen. And as long as he can do it year after year and get strong results, why should he change his system?

One other notable item from the interview was Calipari stating his goal of getting 12 of his players in the NBA All-Star Game. His highest so far has been four.

H/T CBS Sports

John Calipari’s daughter has funny response to those calling for firing

John Calipari

One of John Calipari’s daughters had a funny response on Twitter Sunday morning to the crazy fans calling for her father’s job.

Kentucky has lost three of four games including a 22-point defeat at Florida on Saturday. The poor recent stretch apparently has some crazy fans saying Calipari needs to be fired.

Here was Megan Calipari’s response to them:

Calipari’s other daughter, Erin, also got in on the fun:

Kentucky is 18-5 but may not be living up to the expectations some fans have. If anyone is expecting more out of the program than what Calipari has delivered, they’d have to let me know whom they’d rather having coaching. It’s hard to beat what Calipari has done since taking over at Kentucky in 2009.

H/T The Spun