John Calipari’s first head coaching job during his Hall of Fame career was at UMass, and the school is set to honor him for his success there.
UMass announced Monday that it plans to erect a statue of Calipari outside the Mullins Center on Sept. 11. Statues of star players Julius Erving and Marcus Camby, as well as former coach Jack Leaman will also be unveiled.
Calipari had a remarkable run at UMass between 1988 and 1996, succeeding despite a lack of top recruits. He led UMass to the Final Four in 1996, though the appearance was later vacated after it was found that Camby had previously accepted gifts from agents. The fact that both Calipari and Camby are being honored this way is a clear indication that UMass has long since moved on from the incident.
Calipari and UMass appear to have mutual warmth between them after over two decades. The same can’t be said for another of his former coaching spots, but this honor should be well-received.
John Calipari is seemingly the subject of NBA coaching rumors on an annual basis, and it is officially that time of year again.
Ben Rohrback and Vincent Goodwill published a list for Yahoo Sports on Tuesday of 10 potential NBA head coaching candidates, and Calipari is a part of it. The reporters say they were told by multiple sources that Calipari is open to leaving Kentucky for the NBA.
One executive told Yahoo Sports that Calipari “may have maxed out at Kentucky.” Another said the changing landscape of college basketball has the Hall of Famer considering his options.
“College basketball is a sinking ship,” the exec said. “He is much different than his first go-round but that ego is hard to tame.”
Calipari signed a lifetime deal with Kentucky two years ago. He’s one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball and likely always will be, but some longtime coaches have been discouraged by the new transfer rules that allow players to leave a school and play elsewhere immediately. A new law could also be passed in the near future that would allow players to profit off their name, image and likeness while in school.
One NBA head coaching job that Calipari was linked to last year is no longer open. However, there are now six vacancies after Stan Van Gundy and Scott Brooks parted ways with their respective teams on Wednesday. If Calipari wants to make the jump, he would likely receive plenty of interest.
Calipari had an unsuccessful stint as the head coach of the then-New Jersey Nets from 1996-1999. Many believe he will want a second shot at the NBA at some point.