There has been a ton written on what Kentucky’s victory would mean and the players/coaches who would be a part of the program’s eighth national championship. But as to the topic of the team’s coach, this Deadspin article on Calipari may have hit the nail on the head the best. The author notes that John Calipari is real, not messing around with the antiquated notion of what college basketball should be, but rather what it is. And in so doing, he should have everyone’s respect. Some excerpts:
You’re old enough now to know the truth. No more fairy stories about “student-athletes” (a tortured phrase Calipari refuses to use) and loyalty and preparing a teenager for manhood. Division I is a minor league and a cattle call for the NBA, and one-and-done only exists because none-and-done no longer does. Save the “shaping young men’s characters” bull for John Wooden’s condolence book. John Calipari is successful because he recruits the type of player who’s going to leave after one season. Win-and-done.
“I could bulldoze ’em, brainwash ’em and make ’em stay. I will never do it. Get another coach. Because if it were my son, I wouldn’t want my son treated that way.”
It’s telling that this is somehow a controversial statement. That the man who outright says he’s not going to stop a 19-year-old from earning the millions of dollars he’s worth is vilified. That Kentucky is referred to as “a trade school for transients,” or that terrible human Bobby Knight can claim Calipari is “lacking in integrity” and nobody bats an eye.
And then a great conclusion on how Calipari is really showing a degree of selflessness with his success:
“If we ever won a national title and no player was drafted, I would be excited for our fans, excited for our school and our program, but I’d be disappointed.”
That’s selflessness, and the words of man who’s figured out how to build a great basketball team with great players, not student-athletes. Stars come and go. By letting them go, Calipari gets them to come.
John Calipari is honest…and like lots of other honest people, truly honest people that refuse to accept the standard party line when it is clearly no longer correct, he is thus vilified. So be it…but I am glad he is on our side.