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Bill Simmons throws jab at John Calipari’s late-game coaching ability


Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Simmons is known as one of the best in the business when it comes to knowledge of NBA basketball. He wrote a 750-page “Book Of Basketball” proving as much. He worked at ESPN from 2001 to 2015, and then launched The Ringer, an extremely successful sports and pop culture website in 2016. He also hosts his own weekly podcast.

In episode 373 of The Bill Simmons Podcast released this weekend, the NBA guru brought on guests Andy Samberg and Desus & Mero to talk about the NBA Finals and basketball in general. In the process, Simmons threw in a subtle jab at Calipari’s late-game coaching ability.

It started with a discussion about Mike D’Antoni’s time with the Knicks and how each time he “got to the top of the mountain,” he always found a way to blow it, specifically at the end of games. Simmons then brought up some basketball coaches that manage to keep their cool under pressure, and others that don’t. Calipari fell in the latter category.

“Don’t you feel like there is something to a coach that seems like he’s taking a s**t in his pants in the last four minutes of a game seven?” he said. “He has that look on his face like “oooooh,” just furious. Cause I’ve always felt like with John Calipari, I wouldn’t want to play for him. Where you look at my dude Brad Stevens, he’s always calm. He might be dying inside, but you don’t see it. I think Steve Kerr is like that for the most part, and I actually think Ty Lue is like that, too. They’re just the same at all times.”

There’s no denying Stevens and Kerr are two of the calmest and collected coaches in the game. But Tyronn Lue? Maybe because he doesn’t have to do anything with LeBron James running the show. As far as pure coaching ability, especially in late-game situations, Lue is one of the worst in the NBA. Calipari has been (rightly) criticized for a few questionable moments down the stretch in the past, but let’s not compare him to Cleveland’s “head coach.”

Listen to the segment below:

What do you guys think? Is he wrong?

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

35 responses to “Bill Simmons throws jab at John Calipari’s late-game coaching ability”

  1. blueblood4life

    In other words bill Simmons is a dumb Ass!

  2. KYcats11

    It’s ok, at least John Calipari can make it to the NCAA tournament.

    1. Alleykat16

      Bill Simmons is a Boston lovin celtics chump. I wouldn’t listen to nothing he’s got to say. He screws up everything to touches sooner or later. I dont think Calipari would have recruited him or anybody in his bloodline. He is just a talker how hides behind a mike. And dont know why yall give him the time on this site to yack his crap

  3. KYcats11

    Crap, can I delete that comment. Haha. I just read the headline and thought it said Ben Simmons.

    1. Cincy Cayt

      You actually win. He’s not even the most famous B Simmons in the NBA world!

  4. Wade

    So u didn’t post my comment again .

  5. StuckinLville

    Cant really argue with that. We have seen numerous games blown because of this and his being loyal to players instead of the team.

    1. Rembrandt

      The players ARE the team, in case you haven’t figured it out. What you really mean is, Cal cares about being loyal to his players more than he cares about what novice fans like you think of him.

    2. ukjaybrat

      cal’s won more games than you. i like his coaching opinion more than yours.

  6. kjd

    I agree. Calipari is not great at the end of games, especially big ones.

  7. mashburnfan1

    I said when he was hired I did not think he was a great game coach and still believe that today. Will say the year we went to Tourney as an 8 seed and beat OSU and UNC back to back was the 2 best games I have seen his teams be coached. Was it Cal or an Asst., who knows, but both were well coached games in prep and in game. But still too many games where his lack of coaching, just cause he is always yelling does not mean it is good coaching, lost us games we had no business losing.

    1. damage_control

      UK was a 4 seed when they beat OSU & UNC back to back in the NCAA tourney.

    2. Cincy Cayt

      But by accidentally talking about us being an 8 seed, he reminds of the 2014 tournament where Cal outcoached Marshall, Pitino, Beilein, and Ryan in 4 straight games…as an 8 seed.

  8. Ninjashock

    Honestly it’s a valid criticism. A coach with an even demeanor can definitely be a calming influence on a team–and Cal isn’t that guy. To jump from that to not wanting to play for him is probably just Bill trying to be provocative for his audience; there’s obviously much more to being a great coach, and Cal excels in most of those other areas.

    1. Luether

      Good post…

  9. Cincy Cayt

    Look, this guy is interesting and generally entertaining but let’s not pretend he’s an expert on anything outside of Boston sports. Cal has had his ups and downs but I’ll take him over every other college coach. The reason it feels like 10 years instead of 3 since our last Final Four is because of what he did up to that point. Would have loved this “slump” during Tubby and BCG years.

  10. Matty Arbuckle

    Lol who is Bill Simmons?

    1. Luether

      Read the post, dumb ass…

  11. Wildcat Sheli

    He might want to look at our final games of 2011, 2015 and 2017 to see if there’s a common denominator. And for good measure, the final games of 2010 and 2018 for a common denominator there, too. Cal coached UK to the Championship Game twice without those 2 on the whistle.

  12. AdamN

    There is a HUGE factor in this that is not being considered… at the end of an important game, Calipari is coaching mostly college freshman, where the other guys are coaching NBA players. Not really an appropriate/fair comparison. It’s a lot easier to stay calm and collected with some of the best players in the world on your team. Plus this is just a style. Me personally, I would much rather have a coach that gets crazy hype in crunch time than someone who acts like that are in an office. But that’s just me. There isn’t really a wrong answer.

  13. Robkycats54

    I’ve been said get rid of Calipari for Brad Stevens….. his players love never had a Superstar for a full season get the best out of his players, if he coach at kentucky with all the talent we had…. we don’t lose to K-State, Wisconsin, Uconn twice in the final four or to a 1-3-1 West Virginia team with John Wall & Cousins….. & I believe his players buy in more to what he is preaching than Calipari, Also Alot more guys would have returned to kentucky giving us a legitimate chance to win each instead 5, 6, 7 freshman having to carry us every season smh I love John Calipari but I’d take Brad Stevens over him in a heart beat……. 1 would argue he couldn’t recruit like Cal & I would say he got Butler to championship twice with 2 & 3 star players, So give him a couple 5 stars, A few 4 stars, mixed with those hard nose 3 star guys & I bet Kentucky would have at least 2 championship & if you give him (Brad) the Rosters we had since 2009 I’d say we would 4-5 championship since then……

    1. runningunnin.454

      That’s speculative nonsense; and, Stevens’ team lost to a lower seed, one-man team.
      And go find a remedial grammar class; that made my head hurt.

    2. davisfeathers

      This ^^ is a very good, smoldering hot, take. But do you realize Stevens is doing terrific work with his current employer, the Boston Celtics?

    3. Ez21

      U all say what u want but Brad Stevens would not come here. At least not now or anytime in the immediate future.

  14. KYJelly

    I love Cal, but he isn’t the best in late game situations. A big part is the mentality of letting “the kids play it out”, but he has gotten out-coached numerous times at the end of games.

    1. Luether

      Agree with numerous times…

  15. Headhurts

    So how many titles does brad Stevens have? O that’s right you said IF. Love that little word IF.

  16. CSCat

    Wouldn’t trade Cal for anything in the world, but his late game decisions are not the best. I will point to the Final Four loss to Wisconsin – the Cats had clawed back to tie and take the lead – Wisconsin was tired – instead of taking it right to them and feeding KAT, Cal tells them to slow it down resulting in 2 shot clock violations. I look at the UNC Elite 8 game – call a TO and set up a play. I think he needs to defer to his assistants more in those situations.

    1. Wade

      So the refs in the Wisconsin game had nothing to do with it? Please air that game on Espn and have analyst pick it apart for the world to see. Simmons is comparing nba coaches with all stars and men to cal and his young horses just isn’t the same. But cal does get out coached sometimes so what.

  17. Rod Crandler

    Bottom line, in a tight game at the end, the players have to make the plays on the big stage. Freshman do freshman things when the pressure is on especially under the lights of the final four. Having players that have been in those situations is huge for a coach. I think this often give the perception that Cal can’t handle the pressure when it’s really the young players. I will say that I have seen Cal with the look like he just crapped his pants a few times though.

  18. SoCalCat

    I really like Bill Simmons, so no real qualms with his comment. Cal does draw up good plays at the end of games, so I don’t have any complaints. However, didn’t one this year’s top high school recruit’s dad say at the Pan Am games Cal had a deer in the headlight moment in a tight game with the squad according to son and thus he didn’t choose UK?

    A better BS podcast to listen to is the recent one he had with JJ Redick where the discussion was about one-and-done and what JJ’s advice would be to high schooler’s. He noted that the NBA game has changed so much the last couple of years that he would recommend kids consider going to the G League to get exposure to the new way the game is being played rather than under the tutelage of college coaches who are not plugged in. It struck me whether Cal considers himself plugged into what is going on in the NBA.

  19. chris43

    Ah screw this idiot!!!

  20. bigblue2284

    The 2014 championship game Cal seemed nervous and the team seemed tight. The Wisconsin game in 2015 was the same, I’ve always felt Cal chokes in big moments. Almost every professional analysis has the same knock on Cal and that’s his in game adjustments, it’s clear other coaches do more with less. I like Cal I think he is a good coach, he is a great recruiter and wins a lot of games. We can still evaluate him fairly as a coach and say his in game coaching sucks sometimes.

  21. njCat

    Even in the one ship he won he almost blew a big lead at the end. It took a miraculous block by MKG to save that game. He takes the air out of the ball every time he has a lead and the team invariably tightens up. He has his best games when he’s coming from behind.

  22. AtlKatFan

    The only beef I have with Cal lately is all his yelling on sidelines. Seems unclassy somehow and makes me uncomfortable. Other than that very happy! Loved the blue white platoon idea, totaly ingenious!