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John Calipari on what motivates his players

John Calipari on what motivates his players

Getty Images Julius Mays

Getty Images

By now, you surely know that John Calipari’s new book, “Players First,” is in bookstores. You can order the book online here, or buy it during one of Cal’s book-signing events across the state. is releasing excerpts from the books over the next few days, beginning with this one on the “Players First” motto Cal adopted when he came to UK, and what motivates his players. Here’s just a snippet of it:

I ask the young men entrusted to me to dig deep within and explore what motivates them. “What is your ‘why?’ ” I ask them. “Why are you playing basketball for the University of Kentucky, and what do you hope to achieve?”

A lot of them tell me their “why” is that they want to take care of their families. That means different things to different kids. Not every one of them is headed to the NBA. Julius Mays, a steadying influence on our turbulent 2012–13 team, memorably said, in front of all his teammates, “I’m my mother’s only son, and I’m not going to fail.” Other players tell me, “I’m going to take care of my mom and my grandma because they’ve been through so much for me. I’m going give them the world once I make it to the league, because I promised them that.”

That makes me love Julius Mays even more. To read the full excerpt, head on over to

Chad Ford says the Harrison Twins haven’t been getting the feedback they’d like from agents

(Darrell Bird | Catpause)

(Darrell Bird | Catpause)

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for Chad Ford’s latest NBA Insider chat on Because there’s little else on the minds of the BBN, Ford was asked several times about Kentucky players’ draft decisions, and had some mixed news to report. Ford says that the Harrison Twins have been talking to agents to see where their stock stands, but haven’t been receiving the feedback they’d like, which “might push them to come back”:

As for the Harrison twins, they’ve wanted to go to the NBA all season. I know they’ve been talking to agents and trying to figure things out. The challenge for them is that the feedback from the NBA hasn’t been what they want to hear — even with their strong play in the tournament. If they want guarantees they are first round picks, not sure either will get it. So … it might push them to come back. I think they could really help their stock if they played one more year in Lexington.

Ford added that he believes Julius Randle and James Young are likely to leave for the draft, while Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson will likely stay, although he wonders if Willie’s decision to come back may “push Johnson out,” especially with Karl Towns coming in.

Read the entire chat transcript here.

Watch Calipari on “Morning Joe” and “Squawk Box”

John Calipari’s national book tour wrapped up this morning with appearances on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” In case you’re in Calipari withdrawal after yesterday’s whirlwind tour, enjoy the clips above and below, in which Cal applauds the NCAA for finally approving unlimited meals and snacks, and lobbies for additional pay for players in the form of stipends.

Sam Malone takes another shot at Jeff Goodman

Malone_Sam_TV Head 12-13

Sam Malone is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on Twitter. He’s always been funny, but lately, he’s been downright snarky with Jeff Goodman, the BBN’s favorite national media member (ha!). A few weeks ago, Goodman ranked all of the players in the Final Four, “even Sam Malone!”, he tweeted, and Malone responded, “Still wouldn’t pay $40 a year for Insider.” +1 Malone, right?

This morning, as a response to Thomas Beisner about waiting for the players to announce their decision, Goodman tweeted “I think @SamMaloneuk13 should make an announcement today.” Once again, Malone couldn’t help but respond:

+1,000 Malone.

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Just How Much Have Calipari Players Made in the NBA?

John Calipari often talks of “changing players lives” as his top goal as coach of the University of Kentucky.  What does that actually look like?  Now that he has 4 draft classes (with a 5th right around the corner) in the NBA, just how much wealth have Calipari guys accumulated?  And how much do they have coming in future seasons?  Take a look:

John Wall (4 seasons): $24,050,165 (signed to make $78.78 million more over next 5 seasons)
Demarcus Cousins (4 seasons): $15,800,134 (signed to make $60.97 million more over next 4 seasons)
Patrick Patterson (4 seasons): $8,985,302 (no contract for next season)
Eric Bledsoe (4 seasons): $7,415,553 (no contract for next season)
Daniel Orton (4 seasons): $3,285,056 (no contract for next season)

Enes Kanter (3 seasons): $13,081,920 (signed to make $5.70 million next season)
Brandon Knight (3 seasons): $8,112,840 (signed to make $3.55 million next season)
Josh Harrellson (3 seasons): $1,712,094 (signed to make $0.95 million next season)
Deandre Liggins (3 seasons): $1,287,816 (no contract for next season)

Anthony Davis (2 seasons): $10,520,040 (signed to make $12.68 million more over next 2 seasons)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2 seasons): $9,412,560 (signed to make $11.35 million more over next 2 seasons)
Terrence Jones (2 seasons): $3,036,840 (signed to make $4.11 million more over next 2 seasons)
Marquis Teague (2 seasons): $2,103,120 (signed to make $1.12 million next season)
Doron Lamb (2 seasons): $1,438,872 (signed to make $0.92 million next season)
Darius Miller (2 seasons): $1,262,476 (no contract for next season)

Nerlens Noel (1 season): $3,172,320 (signed to make $11.12 million more over next 3 seasons)
Archie Goodwin (1 season): $1,064,000 (signed to make $4.37 million more over next 3 seasons)

TOTAL: 46 seasons, $115,741,108
FUTURE: 26 seasons, $195.62 million

Depending on how long Calipari stays at Kentucky, I don’t think it will be out of the realm of possibility that Calipari UK guys make over 1 billion dollars in the NBA combined.  This doesn’t take into account Derrick Rose or Marcus Camby, who combined to have made 185.9 million in their careers, with Rose under contract for another 60.3 million over the next 3 years.  And it also doesn’t consider what Anthony Davis and MLG are likely to bring in with their 2nd contracts, which Wall and Cousins prove is where the big money is made.  And let’s not even consider endorsements for many of these guys as well.  Truly staggering numbers.

Cal uses a lot of hyperbole to describe what he is doing at UK, but when he says he is changing young men’s lives, these numbers prove there is nothing exaggerated about that.

Kentucky Senate Shoots Down Rupp Arena Funding

Kentucky Senate Shoots Down Rupp Arena Funding


photo courtesy of Lexington Herald Leader

It is late so we will make this quick. The Senate is not going to pass the Rupp Arena funding proposal. After giving $75 million to the Yum Center and another $60 million in this session to the Louisville Convention Center, the Kentucky Senate has denied any funding for the new Rupp Arena project. The decision was lead by Senate President Robert Stivers, who earlier in the evening had said he was undecided on the project. We will look more into this tomorrow for details and discuss on the radio. This is a definite blow for the Rupp renovation and a big step in keeping UK behind Louisville on the facility/revenue side for the near future.

Hillsborough’s Wednesday News and Views


I spent a good portion of tonight watching the ESPN “30 for 30″ on the English football disaster that occurred in 1989 entitled “Hillsborough.” For those of you that don’t know the story, at a FA Cup Semifinal game (the major tournament that is part of the English football season), 96 Liverpool fans were killed after being crushed in the stands during an overcrowding situation. The scenes and video from the disaster are haunting and the documentary describing the events is one of the more heartbreaking things I have ever seen. I can remember as a kid seeing a picture of the scene in Sports Illustrated that showcased people being crushed against the metal fences, and the image haunted me for a very long time. After watching the documentary tonight, it will be in my mind once again. After telling the story of the events, the documentary also features a good deal on the coverup perpetrated by the police and authorities in England to try to blame the fans for errors that were caused by those in charge. Now even 25 years after the events, there are FINALLY open investigations taking place about what happened and justice may come for the 96 fans that passed away on that day. If you get a chance, make sure and watch the documentary on ESPN (it replays Sunday at 10 pm) or read more about the story here.

With that, some notes on the stories of the day:

Players Making Their Draft Decisions:

The NCAA deadline came and went today and as expected, no UK players announced their decisions. The real deadline is the one imposed by the NBA and that is April 27, giving all players 12 more days to decide their futures. Rumors began to spread today that the Harrison Twins could be close to announcing a return, likely fueled by speculation from a couple of UK reporters suggesting that good news was on the way. While I think it is perfectly possible that the Twins could return, I also think that all opinions on this subject are complete guesses. There are people “around” the Twins who are talking about the decision but I firmly believe that those folks are speaking with little knowledge. I was told by Mr Harrison at the Final Four that the decision would be made by his family and his family alone and there would be no leaks. I believe that and I don’t think the folks around UK know what the twosome are going to do either. Any guess by me would be just that…a guess and I think all speculation is exactly the same. Hopefully we will find out soon, although it could come at any time.

As for the rest of the players, I still believe we will hear a decision on Randle and Young this week and I expect both to enter the Draft. If either were to reach a different decision, I would be shocked. Alex Poythress has been the subject of some speculation today, but I still believe he returns to Lexington, where he is happy. That leaves Dakari Johnson, who is a true wildcard. One week ago, I think he was assured to come back to UK for another year, but at this point I am not sure. I still think smart money is on a return but he is definitely now actively considering leaving, something that didn’t seem possible just a week or so ago. These are anxious days for UK fans, but Willie returning does make everything a little brighter.

Calipari Continues to be Everywhere

At this point, I would be shocked if John Calipari does not end up on “Duck Dynasty” or “Party Down South” over the course of the next week or so. Calipari has been everywhere and is doing a great job at all his appearances. He will show up bright and early tomorrow on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC and then will find his way next week to “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central (which has the potential to be epic. He continues to harp on the same themes about institutional change to the NCAA and there is no doubt that this is his focus throughout his travels. I am currently reading his book “Players First” (which is actually really interesting) and will be doing an event with him in Louisville on April 24th that I think you should check out. One of the things we have learned over the last couple of days is that Calipari is the master of the media and his appearances this week continue the theme of sports world domination that he is undertaking.


For what its worth, I am hearing that the Yahoo report of a UK basketball trip to Spain is not correct. The Cats are going to take a summer trip in August and my assumption is that it will be somewhere that isn’t Windsor, Canada. But I am hearing that it is much more likely to be a place like the Bahamas, or the like, rather than to Europe. Either way, save some time on your schedule for August basketball.


AT the time of this writing (a bit before 11), we are still waiting to hear what will happen to the Rupp Arena funding. The legislators have until midnight to make it happen and the Republicans in the Senate are still the ones holding up the process. We will know what they do by the morning and will deal with it then. If they don’t pass the money, after the University and city of Lexington made a number of the changes requested by them and after giving similar money not only to the Yum Center but to the Louisville Convention Center in this session…well somebody has some explaining to do.

Big day tomorrow…we are doing KSR Radio LIVE from Sleep Outfitters on 2105 Hurstborne Parkway in Louisville and giving away a trip to Las Vegas, Miami or another destination of your choice. If you don’t come, that is on you. So see you there…

The NBA Playoff Teams Are Set!

Following last night’s slate of NBA games all 16 playoff spots have been locked up and a bunch of former Cats will be making some noise this May. The only question now is where the teams will finish and what teams the Cats will face for a playoff run:

Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson: Eastern Conference 3-seed Toronto Raptors

Chuck Hayes: 4th playoff appearance, 1st with Raptors

Patrick Patterson: 1st playoff appearance.

The young Raptors are here and ahead of schedule as they need just one more win to lock up the third seed. Toronto will bring a core of players making their playoffs debut and Patrick Patterson is chief among them. Pat’s numbers have fallen back a bit since going down to injury in March but I expect he will be ready to play in his first playoff run. Former Cat and head coach Dwayne Casey will have his work cut out for him if the Raptors have to take on the Heat in the second round but let’s not overlook the Wizards.

Nazr Mohammed and the 4th seeded Chicago Bulls

Marquis Teague and the 5-6 seed Brooklyn Nets

John Wall and the 6-7 seed Washington Wizards

MKG and the 6-7 seed Charlotte Bobcats

Currently the Wizards are tangled with the Bobcats in a battle for the 6 or 7 seeds in the East with the Nets controlling their own destiny for the fifth seed. Teague got some playoff experience last year with the Bulls but for Wall and Kidd-Gilchrist this will be their first appearance in the playoffs. The former Cats may not make much noise this season but the future is bright for these young players. Also don’t forget about former Cat Frank Vogel who led the Pacers to the top seed in the East.

In the West:

Terrance Jones and the 4th seeded Houston Rockets

After a strong start to the season the Phoenix Suns fizzled down the stretch and now Terrance Jones is the lone Cat who will be playing in the West. Jones has been an revelation in Houston this season averaging 12 points per game with Dwight Howard drawing the defensive gameplan.  The Rockets could take on the Spurs in the opening round with a chance to steal a spot in the finals due to Tony Parker’s recent back injury. Could be a very wild west this summer.


Which former Cat will you be pulling for during this playoff run?

Free snacks for everyone!


The NCAA has finally made right on one of its most ridiculous rules, which dealt with the amount and even the type of snacks allowed to be given to student-athletes free of charge. In one of his many media stops this week, John Calipari mentioned just how absurd it was that players could be given peanuts, but not peanut butter. Well, it looks like the NCAA finally decided to spend time policing more important things than the quantity and quality of snacks being provided to the student-athletes. The topic was brought to light when in the midst of the NCAA tournament, Shabazz Napier mentioned that he and his teammates are often times hungry.

Division I student athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation, the Legislative Council decided Tuesday. The rule, which applies to walk-ons as well as scholarship student-athletes, is an effort to meet the nutritional needs of all students.

Calipari has been in the camp to allow more food and better nutrition to be provided to his players for a while now. In 2012, Calipari went on a bit of a rant about the nutritional needs of the athletes not being met by the NCAA. Calipari said in reference to the Wildcat Lodge, “We have a kitchen here that should be open for these kids whenever they want to eat.” Calipari even wrote about it on in an article titled: “Let’s focus on rules that matter and let our kids eat.”

Previously, schools were only allowed to provide 3 meals a day to student-athletes. Calipari argued that nutritionists have done studies that say college athletes are under-fed. With the amount of energy and calories being expended each day by athletes, Calipari says the players should be eating 6-7 times a day. 

Somewhere Melvin Turpin is smiling.

Things to do as you wait for players to decide

Bob Donnan | Getty

Bob Donnan | Getty


Watch all other schools fall apart
as their only good players declare for the draft. Yeah, Kentucky might have a few players leaving, but we will still be stocked up for next year. Other teams will fall off the radar as their ringer goes straight for the NBA without even looking back.



Watch Cal’s press tour
as he continues to defend grandmothers and hip-hop. Buy his book to follow along with as well so you don’t get loss,  since you will be only watching Cal non-stop with all of the appearances he has been making.



Watch Jeff Goodman
downplay Willie’s return like there are other seven foot first round picks growing on trees.  Better yet, as a Goodman protest go out and buy that awesome Willie shirt and Snapchat him a picture.



Laugh at Chad Ford
and his analysis of players. Don’t forget to listen to the opposite of what he
says. It can be like a fun game of opposite day. At least his errors can bring us
joy in some sort of way, right?



Start getting yourself ready
for football mode as the spring game is right around the corner. Yes. Kentucky still has a football program. I know it got lost a little as Kentucky did well in the tournament. But with the spring game approaching next week, it’s time to get ready for tailgating and watching guys knock each other out.



Go and see Draft Day.
Just kidding. You can always wait until the real life NFL draft in May. Sorry,    Roger. I know you really wanted that money.



Send thank you letters
to Indiana’s school of journalism for promoting UK alumni in their brochure. That was so nice of them to promote our basketball  program and we should let them know how happy we are about it.


Take your significant other somewhere nice
to make up for ignoring her for the past 6 months during basketball season. You have been putting that person off for a while now and it’s time to show them how much you appreciate them…when it isn’t basketball season.



Cancel plans with your significant other
as you realize the NBA season is still going on and you have other Cats to watch. It’s just one date, they can wait a little bit longer right?



Thank the players
for all the heart attacks and joy they gave us throughout the season and especially March. Let them know you appreciate them for joining BBN and leaving everything on the court no matter what decision they make.



Alex Poythress’ dad says the NBA decision is “muddy and convoluted”

Photo by Darrell Bird,

Photo by Darrell Bird,

During all of the talk about players staying and going, many believed that Alex Poythress returning to school was a relatively safe bet, right? Well…Larry Vaught spoke to Antoine Poythress’, Alex’s father, who said that this year, the process is “so muddy and convoluted”:

“For Alex, it’s even worse because it is not very clear. Last year (making a decision about the draft) looked like a cake walk compared to this year. It is so muddy and convoluted this year.”

Poythress Sr. says that the limited time frame and the process of getting feedback through the NCAA has made the whole ordeal “a nightmare,” but in the end, it will be his son’s decision, even if it differs from his own opinion.

These comments correspond with those from our own Ryan Lemond, who says he’s hearing that although Alex himself wants to come back, there are some in his camp that feel he may not get the amount of playing time he should with all of these players returning. Ryan added that he believes Alex will be back, and his scoop has been spot-on so far. To hear all of Ryan’s comments, listen to the second hour of today’s podcast.

Vaught has a ton of quotes from Alex’s dad, which you should go check out on

[Whether to declare for draft or stay at UK “muddy, convoluted” for Alex Poythress this year]

Cal says he’s moved more by the work he’s doing at Kentucky than the NBA

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Throughout his tour of the ESPN headquarters today, John Calipari has been asked about the NBA several times. On “First Take,” Skip Bayless asked him if the Lakers called, would Cal go? “NO!” On “SportsNation,” he was asked if the over/under on him taking the Lakers job was 1%, what would he take? “UNDER!”

On “Numbers Never Lie,” he put it this way: the work he’s doing at Kentucky, helping families, means more to him than the work he could do in the NBA, even if he believes he would be more successful in the league his second time around:

“I think I would be (better than my previous NBA stint) if I did it, but that’s not the point for me. Can I say this in a humble way? I don’t need the money. If I stop coaching today at Kentucky, my toes are up and I’m eating Cheetos and I’m fine.

“But here’s my point: What’s happening for me, what I’m feeling about coaching, goes beyond wins, goes beyond building a franchise. Can I do that in the NBA? If there was someplace that I felt that it would be more than just coaching and trying to win … I’m not there to help you build your franchise value or help sell tickets. That doesn’t move me. What moves me now is what I’m doing, and how I’m helping families.”

Let’s keep it that way.

Photo @ESPNprDScott

The 6 Best Moments of Cal’s SportsNation Chat

Photo @ESPNprDScott

Photo @ESPNprDScott

Cal is all over ESPN today, even doing an online chat with SportsNation. Miss it? Here are my six highlights…

1. Cal says he’ll take about a month off to recover from his hip surgery

When asked when he would get some time to relax, Cal said he will take about a month off in May to have his hip replaced, the first time in his coaching career he’s taken that long of a break. He later added that his hip injury is more of a nerve issue than bone-on-bone, and he tried “steam massages and anything else I could do to help alleviate that.”

2. He hopes UK football will be as special as UK basketball someday

A fan asked Cal if he ever wished he coached at a school where football was as big as basketball to balance some of the media attention, and Cal said there are about four programs in which you can win in both sports, and he hopes Kentucky is added to that list. For now, he says he enjoys helping the football program “grow into something special.”

3. Cal likes golfing, reading, and long walks on the beach

And he really prefers penne pasta to bucatini.

4. He says he tried to make just as many funny faces as Julius Randle this year

When asked who makes the better funny faces, him or Randle, Cal said he tried to match him funny face to funny face, but “he got me.” Yeah…



…he did.

5. Cal’s never filled out an NCAA bracket


6. He admitted part of “the tweak” was “toying with the media”

Martin from New York asked Cal if he got any enjoyment from watching everyone try to guess what the tweak was, which led to this classic Cal admission: “Obviously, I like toying with the media.” Naaaah. No way. He then added that he kept the tweak a secret so other teams wouldn’t find out he was playing Andrew as a passer.

Read a full transcript of the chat here.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac | Getty Images)

Barry Rohrssen to UK sounding more and more likely

(Photo by Jim McIsaac | Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim McIsaac | Getty Images)

Although we probably won’t hear anything official from UK until Cal gets back from his national book tour, it’s looking more and more likely that Barry Rohrssen will become the next UK assistant coach. Rumors have linked the Pitt assistant to the job for almost a week, and Rivals’ Matthew Steinbrink, who covers Pitt athletics, tweeted that multiple sources are saying it’s happening:

Come on down, Slice.

John Calipari on First Take

Going toe to toe with Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless

Got a question for Cal? Join ESPN’s SportsNation chat

(Darrell Bird | Catspause)

(Darrell Bird | Catspause)

Got a question you’ve been dying to ask John Calipari? You’re in luck. As part of his ESPN tour today, Cal is doing an online chat with ESPN’s SportsNation. He’ll begin answering questions at 1:30 p.m. ET, so click here to submit yours before then. I’ll post the best responses a little later on.

Please, no one ask about the tweaks.

Watch Bill O’Reilly ask Calipari about “the rap stuff, the hip-hop stuff,” and hustlers

Matt mentioned Cal’s appearance on Bill O’Reilly last night, but looking at the clip this morning, it truly was odd. Here’s a three-minute clip of O’Reilly asking Cal about “the rap stuff, the hip-hop stuff,” and the “hustlers everywhere,” and Cal shooting down all of O’Reilly’s assumptions and stereotypes.

Transcript of the comments after the jump.