Coach Cal, the ever-evolving renaissance man that he is, has another book coming out in April. As you can see in the above picture, it’s called Players First: Success from the Inside Out, and will focus almost exclusively on Calipari’s years in Lexington. Here’s part of the description, courtesy of its publisher, Penguin Press:
In Players First, John Calipari relates for the first time anywhere his experiences over his first four years coaching the Kentucky Wildcats, college basketball’s most fabled program, from the doldrums to a national championship, drawing lessons about leadership, character, and the path to personal and collective victory.
At its core, Calipari’s coaching philosophy centers on keeping his focus on the players–what they need to get the best out of themselves and one another. He is beloved by his players for being utterly honest with them, not by making promises, but by making commitments that he always keeps. He knows that in this age, they come to Kentucky to prepare for the NBA; every year he gets players who in a previous era would have gone directly into the pros from high school but now have to play college basketball for one year. Calipari has fought against this system, but he has to play within it, and so he does, better than anyone.
Penguin also released a few choice excerpts from the book, which is slated to be released on April 15, 2014. So, basically right after he hangs his second banner. Here’s Cal on being at UK with long-time assistant John Robic:
In my office at the University of Kentucky, I can stand in front of a huge window and look right down on the hardwood floor of our practice court. I can also see the eight banners representing eight national championships–starting with 1948, the first of Adolph Rupp’s four titles, to 2012, the one that I added to the collection.
One day I was looking through that window with John Robic, a Pittsburgh kid like me and one of my assistant coaches going all the way back to the University of Massachusetts, which ranked 295th among 300 NCAA Division 1 teams when we took over. We turned to each other and both said a version of the same thing: Can you believe we’re coaching at this place?
And his ‘players first’ coaching philosophy:
I coach for the names on the back of the jersey–not the front. My players. They’re sent to me by their fathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, their aunts–whoever in this world raised them and loves them. Others look at their NBA bodies and consider them lucky. Future millionaires, just stopping through before they cash in. That’s not what I see. They’re kids, some of them as young as seventeen. They all need me in a different way. Some want my affection, others my approval. It’s a burden to be responsible for other people’s children, sometimes a heavy burden.
And, finally, this gem:
But I’m also a sinner, as we all are. If you come after one of my players, I come after you twice as hard. If you kill one of mine, I burn your village. It’s the Italian in me. I’m not proud of that, but it’s who I am.
Brilliant. I’m sold, just tell me where to pre-order. You can read the excerpts in their entirety right HERE.