Calipari has ties to the Knicks’ new leadership team of president Leon Rose, a former agent for Creative Artists Agency, and William Wesley (aka “Worldwide Wes”), a Knicks consultant. In February, agent David Falk said he thought Calipari would end up with the Knicks.
Despite Calipari’s ties to the Knicks, it would still be surprising to see him leave Kentucky. Maybe Calipari’s stint as the Nets head coach still leaves him dissatisfied, but he’s been at Kentucky so long and done so well there, it would be hard to see him leave. It’s not easy to leave a program behind that you’ve built up as well as Calipari has.
John Calipari has built his reputation by consistently being able to recruit some of the best players in the country to come play for him. From Derrick Rose to John Wall and Anthony Davis, many of the best NBA players over the past few decades have played for Cal.
So what is it about him that makes him so appealing? Wall, who played for Calipari at Kentucky in 2010 before becoming the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, did his best to explain that in a recent interview.
Michael Jordan made a career out of intimidating opponents, and that intimidation factor was felt by opposing coaches as well. John Calipari experienced that first-hand, and the college basketball legend isn’t afraid to admit it.
ESPN’s documentary series “The Last Dance” spent some time covering the 1998 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, which was a tough series for the Chicago Bulls against the New Jersey Nets. The Bulls swept the series, but Calipari’s Nets took them to overtime in Game 1. It was during that hard-fought game that Jordan took aim at Calipari.
In the latest episode of ESPN’s “Coffee with Cal,” Calipari recalled how Jordan stared him down at one point during Game 1 and flashed a “0” symbol at him. Calipari didn’t know what it meant, but he tried to avoid Jordan and not motivate him any further.
“For me, when he came up to me and we’re in a timeout, I ain’t saying s— to this guy, there’s not a word I’m saying,” Calipari said, as transcribed by Rob Schaefer of NBA Sportd Chicago. “And when I walked (away) and he followed me, I’m not saying anything. So I turn around and I look at (Nets assistant coach) Kenny Gattison, and I said, ‘Is he still there?’ Because, again, if you made this dude mad. I mean…”
Jordan didn’t stop staring at Calipari, and Calipari turned around to see the six-time champion flashing the “0” hand symbol at him.
“So I look back up at him, and he went like that (makes ‘0’ sign). And I go, ‘Kenny, what’s he talking about?’ (Kenny said) ‘I don’t think he’s gonna let Kerry Kittles score,” Calipari recalled.
Kittles scored 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting in Game 1. He didn’t score a single point in the second half, which is when Jordan locked him down. Kittles, who also appeared on “Coffee with Cal,” said Jordan had the ability to “flip the switch” whenever he wanted.
“I caught the brunt of it as a young player in the league, where I had it going one night in the first half, and then he switched on me in the second half and I don’t think I scored a bucket in the second half,” Kittles said. “That was Michael in a nutshell.”
Some people feel that “The Last Dance” has shown that Jordan was a bully to both teammates and opponents. While Jordan definitely did go to some great lengths to motivate his teammates, that is all part of what made him great. Calipari’s story is another example of that.
John Calipari is standing up for one of his former Kentucky Wildcats.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported Saturday that New York Knicks president Leon Rose still does not know what to make of forward Kevin Knox or if he will be a part of their future. This is despite Calipari, who is close with Rose, having warned him not to trade the 20-year-old.
Knox, New York’s former No. 9 overall pick, has slowed for the Knicks in his second NBA season, averaging a paltry 6.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 17.9 minutes a game. He also failed to become a starter upon interim coach Mike Miller taking over for the fired David Fizdale in December, something that Berman says frustrated Knox’s inner circle.
That said, Knox was a star for Calipari during his one-and-done season at Kentucky in 2017-18, leading the team in scoring as they made another run to the Sweet Sixteen. While this may be more of a “you’ll regret it” message than an ultimatum, Calipari is close enough with Rose that his name recently popped up in rumors linking him to the Knicks’ head coaching job.
John Calipari has shut down any and all speculation about a return to the NBA multiple times over the last several years, but there may just be a situation that poses a different story this time around.
In a report on Sunday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News mentioned the Kentucky men’s basketball coach as a possible candidate to coach the New York Knicks. While also noting that Calipari has publicly rejected the idea of leaving Lexington, Bondy says that Calipari is “so close” to new Knicks president Leon Rose that he should “never” be ruled out.
The 61-year-old Calipari, who has coached Kentucky since 2009, previously served as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets from 1996 until his firing in 1999. He was also briefly an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers before returning to the college ranks.
Calipari has been linked to teams such as the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings in the past but has always emphatically shot them down. A glamorous franchise like the Knicks with former Calipari players like Kevin Knox and Julius Randle might be a juicy draw however, especially with Calipari’s apparent fondness for the team.
The 2020 NBA Draft is currently slated to take place on Jun. 25, but John Calipari does not expect that to proceed as scheduled.
During a conference call this week, the Kentucky men’s basketball coach, who produces a number of draft picks every year, said that he anticipates the draft being pushed back. By extension, he also indicated that other dates like the scouting combine and the draft withdrawal deadline could be delayed as well.
“Guys that have a decision to make, whether they want to stay in the draft or not, the NBA is saying, ‘We’re keeping our date the same.’ OK, well what about the Combine? That is going to move, we believe,” he said, per Adam Zagoria of the New York Times. “Well, what about the draft date? That will move.”
“What about bringing them to your facilities? We don’t know when that will happen, or if it will happen,” Calipari added. “My point to that in trying to get information to the NABC is, shouldn’t we move the decision date back for the kids to go to college or not? The date was always based on when the draft is, when the combine is. Well, that’s all moving so now I think these kids should have more time making that decision.”
As it currently stands right now, the NBA Early Entry Eligibility Deadline is set at 11:59 PM on Apr. 26 and the Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline is at 5 PM on Jun. 15. This allows potential picks to test the waters of the draft but retain their eligibility and return to school for another year if they do not get the feedback that they would like.
The NBA is still not sure exactly what to do with the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign following the suspension of play on Mar. 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The season is all but guaranteed to resume at some point, but that would prevent teams from devoting attention to the draft until much later. Calipari recognizes this and seems certain the 2020 draft will be postponed.
John Calipari could have been livid with his Kentucky Wildcats after they blew a 17-point lead in a home loss to Tennessee on Tuesday. Instead, he kept things in perspective and credited the Vols for their effort.
Calipari praised Tennessee for coming back from a big deficit in the second half, even calling the accomplishment “impressive.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari: For Tennessee to come into this building tonight and come back the way they did and, I hate to say it, to run away with it, I mean, come on, man. That’s impressive.
The loss has to be a huge disappointment for Calipari and Kentucky fans. They had won eight in a row, including a road win at Tennessee, prior to the loss. The Cats are now 24-6 and have Saturday’s regular season finale at Florida before the SEC Tournament. Their case for a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament will depend on how the conference tournament goes.
Kentucky coach John Calipari is no stranger to getting ejected, and it happened to him again on Saturday.
Calipari’s Wildcats were struggling in the second half, on the wrong end of a 13-2 Arkansas run to tie the game. Calipari was infuriated by an illegal screen called against Kentucky forward EJ Montgomery, as it had seemed that Montgomery was standing still when the contact took place.
Calipari was given a technical for arguing, but kept disputing the call and received a second technical and ejection.
It’s far from the most animated we’ve seen Calipari, plus he lasted into the second half, but he had to have seen that coming. Maybe it was an attempt to give his team a breather and let them collect themselves. If so, it worked, as Kentucky got it together and won 73-66.
The Kentucky Wildcats are 8-3 after losing their last two games, and John Calipari is placing as much blame on himself as anyone else.
Calipari spoke with the media ahead of Saturday’s big game against Louisville. He said going into the game that he’s been disappointed with his coaching, coming off the losses to Utah and Ohio State.
“As I look on where we are, I’m not really happy with me,” Calipari said Friday, via WDRB’s Eric Crawford. “Like, I haven’t figured this out, so if I’m a little bit still like, ‘OK, which way is this?’ They’re going to be that way too. . . . I keep saying, the upside of this team is tremendous. But they’re not there, which means that I must be doing a crap job not getting them to play better. We’re trying to work some of it through practice, but I’ll be honest with you, demonstrated performance is the only way to do some of this. They have to get on the court and do it.”
Calipari said he wants to improve spacing for three-pointers and get the ball inside more.
The Wildcats are led by Ashton Hagans’ 13.9 points and Tyrese Maxey’s 13.1 points per game this season. Louisville will represent the highest-ranked opponent Kentucky has faced since its opening win against Michigan State.
Kentucky and Indiana used to match up in an annual rivalry game in college basketball, but the series stopped after 2011 (they have met twice in the NCAA Tournament since). John Calipari says don’t count on it coming back any time soon.
SEC basketball coaches spoke with the media on Thursday for the SEC Basketball Teleconference. Calipari said on the call that he didn’t foresee the rivalry series with Indiana returning soon.
“Our schedule is so locked in, I’m not sure, here in the next four to five years, if even talking about it does anything,” Calipari said, via Kentucky Sports Radio. “We’re hoping to do something in London next year, we’ve got this challenge that we put together, the [Champions Classic] and then the [CBS Sports Classic]. We have a game that we have to play with Louisville. We have our big challenge with the Big 12. Our stuff is pretty well loaded so I don’t see it happening any time in the near future.”
Calipari preferred to do neutral site games rather than home games at Rupp Arena and Assembly Hall. He says he offered to play games at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and was turned down. Why won’t he return to Bloomington? He seems to still hold something against Indiana fans after the way the 2011 game went down.
Kentucky still plays a very competitive schedule with games against North Carolina and Louisville non-conference, while Indiana has fallen off in level of play lately. They probably don’t see the need to add that game back.