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#pounditThursday, August 13, 2020

John Calipari

DeMarcus Cousins does not think John Calipari will ever return to NBA

John Calipari

Rumors linking John Calipari to NBA coaching jobs are an annual occurrence, but one of the Kentucky coach’s former star players does not believe the speculation will ever become more than just that.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman asked DeMarcus Cousins on Tuesday if he believes Calipari will ever coach at the NBA level again. Because Calipari has such a good thing going at Kentucky, Cousins seriously doubts it.

However, if Calipari did decide that he wants to tackle the NBA again, Cousins believes he would be more prepared this time around.

Calipari was fired in his third season as the coach of the New Jersey Nets in 1999. He took the team to the playoffs one time and finished with an overall record of 72-112. Much like Nick Saban’s tenure with the Miami Dolphins, Calipari’s time coaching in the pros is viewed as a failure, and many believe he wants to give it another shot before retiring.

The more time that passes, the less likely it seems that Calipari will coach in the NBA again. We have heard reports about him possibly returning to the pro ranks in a different capacity, but that also seems unlikely. Calipari has everything he could ever need and want at Kentucky, and he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in NCAA basketball history when all is said and done.

John Calipari finds the positive in LaVar Ball

John Calipari

There may no longer be any Balls associated with the UCLA basketball program, but that does not mean LaVar Ball questions do not come up in relation to the team’s games.

Ahead of Saturday’s UCLA-Kentucky game at the CBS Sports Classic, Wildcats head coach John Calipari was asked about Ball. Ball’s oldest son, Lonzo, played for UCLA last year, while middle son, LiAngelo, was a freshman on this year’s team before leaving school following an indefinite suspension.

Calipari was able to find a positive to Ball’s outspoken ways when asked how he would deal with a father like that.

“Don’t know. If I were in that situation, I would have to think about it,” Calipari said, via A Sea of Blue. “One thing I do want you all to understand is: the way he presents stuff, maybe I don’t agree with. But what I do love is he loves his sons. He is a father who loves, loves his sons. And you’ve gotta respect that. There are many kids out there who would love to have a father who paid that much attention to him. So, how he presents some things, maybe I don’t agree with. But there are some other people in the country presenting things in ways that I don’t agree with either.”

This seems to be Calipari’s way of giving a political answer that covers him in case he ever recruits a player with a similar parent. Calipari is a master when it comes to handling big-time recruits and players, so he’s not going to say anything that would harm his chances of landing a player with outspoken parents.

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.