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Calipari addresses fans fed up with players-first mentality

Kentucky’s struggles this season have given new life to the segment of the fanbase that is fed up with John Calipari’s players-first mentality. On his postgame radio show last night, Calipari defended his approach to that “small sliver” of fans who believe the program should only be about the name on the front of the jersey and not the back.

“We’re about [the players]. I told them, each individual player every day, I’m thinking, how can I get them better? Then, I think, how collectively can I get this group better so they can help each other get better?

If you look at me when I try to do what I’m doing for you and you have a problem with it, that’s your problem. You’re not playing for a team that says, ‘Don’t put their name on the back of the jersey, it’s only about the program.’ Now, we do have some fans who think that’s the case. But most of you — that’s a small sliver who I pay no attention to to be honest with you.

This is about these kids and we want them to win for us, too, but they’ve got to win to help each other. I told them, this is hard here. You’ve got to understand and trust we’re for you. If we’re coaching you and we’re coaching you hard, it’s for you. We’re not doing it for any other reason.”

This year’s unprecedented youth has made the process of getting guys to drop their bad habits and buy in more difficult, but Calipari’s track record should be enough for the nattering nabobs of negativity to give him the benefit of the doubt. Judging by the last few weeks, it hasn’t. Even if the payoff doesn’t come this season, a veteran squad coming back should be enough to please everyone (even though something tells me it won’t).

Listen to Calipari’s comments for yourself below. He starts the rant with about 4:15 left in the show.

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Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

81 Comments for Calipari addresses fans fed up with players-first mentality



  1. BigBlueNationDude
    1:06 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    If hes so busy not paying attention about the fans so much why has he been commenting on it a lot lately?



    • Booby Petrino
      1:13 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      He doesn’t care what you think about him or his coaching, he cares about his players.



    • Mathlete
      1:16 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      He said he’s not paying attention to the people who want to be program-first.

      “You’re not playing for a team that says, ‘Don’t put their name on the back of the jersey, it’s only about the program.’ Now, we do have some fans who think that’s the case. … — that’s a small sliver who I pay no attention to to be honest with you.”



    • Han
      1:21 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Because those fans are being very vocal and it gets back to him via the radio show and, you know, the stuff with his daughter on twitter. And even if Cal pays it no mind, his assistants or players might let him know a bunch of people are saying this or that online, or even recruits could mention it.



    • Bobbum Man
      2:22 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      To be fair BigBlueNationDude can’t read very well



  2. Danny44324
    1:18 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    It is a small segment of the fan base, so who cares what they think.



    • BigBlueNationDude
      3:19 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Disagree. I think its a large portion.



    • henderblue
      6:38 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      You BBND, are wrong.



    • DelrayCat
      3:20 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      So this “players only” …. I mean “players first”….shtick is not getting the least bit old to you?



    • the ghost of Bill Hicks
      3:58 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      You don’t want the best of the best playing for us?



    • Han
      4:02 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      I mean, who doesn’t want to go back to the era of expecting players to beg to play at UK because of our tradition, refusing to play freshmen because they need to wait their turn, and missing the final four year after year as other programs remain elite and we sink into obscurity. Remember that?



    • catsarerunnin
      4:10 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Here’s a history lesson for you:UK has missed the FF most years. Only in the little minds of some has there ever been a time when the Cats made the won a title EVERY year.



  3. Truman Claytor
    1:28 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    If you don’t agree with Cal’s approach enough, quit giving money to the program. Most complaints cone from those w ZERO skin in the game…don’t donate to the program (or school), never attended school there, don’t buy tickets, etc. If you cant support it, then go away. They can live without the proceeds from your annual UK sweatshirt purchase. Amazing how spoiled we can become in a short period of time, do you not remember Gillespie? Wait for a couple of consecutive down years before getting your panties in a bunch



    • Skeps
      1:45 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Thanks, guy. Now on top of prerequisites of critique needing to have a coaching resume, now it requires a more monetary investment than UK apparel. Glad you disagree with Cal that this is,”the Commonwealth’s team.” Don’t recall him saying that this is the “Commonwealth’s team”,because they give lots of money. Your comment is one of the more disturbing comments I have read.



  4. Skeps
    1:38 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    This is what concerns me,is the dismissal of fans opinions that he doesn’t like. A good response would include, “I understand their concerns.” It’s not that hard. Not sure where he’s coming from with the name on the jersey thing. I haven’t heard or read that statement anywhere. First team I really loved was the Unforgettables. Not just because they were mostly Kentucky boys, but today Cal wouldn’t even have a look at them because they were undersized and couldn’t dunk. In his first year I heard him say in a Tom Leach post game interview that fans should, “shut up and let me coach my team and you just cheer.” Knew then that fans were bottom of the totem pole. Fans help build this program and the “fans” that simply tell fans that disagree with them to go cheer for soneone else is disturbing.



    • Booby Petrino
      1:41 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      sounds like you’re taking this way personal. Cal doesn’t have time to coddle your type of fandom.



    • Skeps
      1:49 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Pretty sure you’re taking it too seriously. I guess Cal needs you to coddle him to have his ego stroked. I’m sure he’s glad you do what he tells you to do and you can’t think for yourself.



    • Booby Petrino
      2:07 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      I can think for myself. That’s why I don’t need Cal to explain his reasons behind why he’s doing his job the way he’s doing it. My feelings aren’t hurt like yours, because I’m not sitting around thinking Cal needs to answer to the fans and he’s just ignoring us.



    • Mathlete
      2:13 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      You don’t have to love UK, and alternately you don’t have to love everything UK does to love UK. You’re entitled to your opinion, but it’s not your call or your job to make the call on how the program is run



    • Skeps
      2:23 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Mathlete, I appreciate your cordial response. It has absolutely nothing with me making the call of how to run a program. It has everything to do with the right of me to question it. That’s all it is. Hell, my problem isn’t even with Cal as much as it is other Kentucky “fans” who tell me to cheer for someone else.



    • Mathlete
      2:37 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      I won’t lie, I had to reword my original response to include that bit about not having to love everything UK does to love UK. That’s a key part people (myself included) forget too often.

      You can question Cal’s methods all you like though, you’re entitled to have an opinion; but don’t forget that Cal is equally entitled to choose to ignore it and others like it.



    • unbridled
      3:05 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Pretty sure everyone is over estimating the impact of the casual fan base. Let’s be honest, most people don’t give money, don’t go to games, and most have never stepped foot on the campus. Pretty sure most fans simply don’t matter and cal is 100% correct as usual.



    • Cletis75
      3:16 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Who doesn’t consider the unforgettables one of their favorite teams? How about the 2011 and 2014 teams that lost a lot of games going through the season to find themselves? They finally got it and made final four runs when they did! The landscape is much different than it was then. If Cal’s system is so wrong, why is coach K following suit? Oh yeah, you probably know more about basketball than him too!



    • ukcamel
      3:17 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      I’m reminded of the old saying about if you listen to the fans you’ll end up sitting with them. Cal doesn’t need your or any other fan’s help to coach this team. If he fails enough, he will get fired, but he’ll never be fired for not being considerate enough of what some fans think his philosophy should be. That’s ridiculous, and I have a feeling that everyone who has hurt feelings about this would just love if we all came down to the hospital and criticized how you perform brain surgery.

      Also, yes as an alum and a donor, I think my opinion matters more than some dude off the street, because I’ll still be here if we lose 15 games. That being said, I’m just not arrogant enough to think I have anything constructive to help someone being paid 10 million a year to coach, so instead I write checks, travel, and cheer for the team.



    • Big Meech
      3:29 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      It’s his sales pitch, players first. When u understand that then there is really no reason to get upset about it. Does it sit right with all the fans…no. But he’s not recruiting u, if u are like me then u will be a fan no matter what. Let’s just roll into wva and beat them down and be done with this because winning is a cure all



    • Skeps
      3:39 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Ukcamel,you’re not arrogant but your opinion matters more than most? Brilliant. Sounds like the ones with hurt feelings are the ones who attack everyone that doesn’t 100% agree with everything. Grow some thick skin.



    • Skeps
      3:51 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Ukcamel, keep writing those checks and telling all of us poor folk to shut up,lol. This includes everyone who agrees with Cal 100% but doesn’t write UK a check.



    • ukcamel
      4:09 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Skeps, yes, I think that in some cases where I’m more invested, my opinion matters more than someone who is less invested. Do you think all opinions regarding all things carry equal weight? So if you and a stranger were both offering advice to your children, you’d expect your children to consider both equally? This has nothing to do with my thin skin and everything to do with your thick skull. Now stop putting words in my mouth, because you’re embarrassing yourself.

      Go cats!



    • Skeps
      4:25 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      If someone offers me parental guidance I’d examine if it was a good idea or not. If my mother-in-law suggests I can do things a different way I’m not going to automatically be arrogant and trash her and her opinion. Good god man, I can’t offer the slightest difference of opinion on UK basketball without being told my opinion doesn’t matter. Now apparently since I don’t write a check to UK,when you speak it’s game over and discussion is finished. I don’t trash everything Cal does,he’s done some brilliant things as coach. I just don’t like everything he does.



    • ukcamel
      4:41 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      You aren’t Cal’s “mother-in-law” in this scenario, you are a random muttering stranger on the street. Cal doesn’t owe you any consideration of your opinions on how he’s doing his job. The fact that you think he does, while calling others arrogant, well that isn’t surprising in the age of free internet access.

      Also, it appears I hit a nerve suggesting that some people have more invested in UK, that’s a conversation you should be having with a trained professional.



    • Skeps
      4:58 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Not sure where I’m offering advice. I can’t even get that far with you. We are discussing the fact you stated your opinion matters more than most,clearly stated by you. Literal statement by you,no need for interpretation. Not sure where you’re coming up with Cal owes me something. Just because someone doesn’t like his players first mentality doesn’t mean that you have the right to tell them their opinion doesn’t matter. If you’re in the mental health profession a self-diagnosis might be what you need.



    • unbridled
      8:45 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      I’m fairly confident that absolutely NO ONE commenting on ksr gives a check big enough for their opinion to matter. That’s just life. Get over yourself ukcamel. By the way, you from cambell county?



    • ukcamel
      9:29 am January 25, 2018 Permalink

      If you have a problem with me saying that alums who donate to UK are more invested than some guy who bought a hat at Walmart, well that’s your problem, not mine.

      And yes I absolutely have every right to say that your opinion is dumb and Cal should never even consider it. Your opinion is dumb and Cal shouldn’t consider it. See, I did it again!



  5. krautdog
    1:40 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Keep up the good work Cal, the major majority’s got your back!!!



    • BigBlueNationDude
      3:21 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Id say its trending opposite. Id say 70-30 or even 60-40



    • Booby Petrino
      3:36 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      please, dude…not even 70% of the people on this site thinks badly of Cal’s work. And those not on this site typically aren’t as critical of him.



    • BigBlueNationDude
      5:13 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      I meant 30 or 40 dont



  6. kykats
    1:43 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Cal is the best. Players can trust him. Fans should too. We are 15-5. Very young. GET OFF HIS CASE!!!



    • BigBlueNationDude
      3:22 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Excuse every year. 1 title with a million nba guys



    • timbo
      4:32 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      You’re the guy that gives out toothbrushes for Halloween! You know, because all the kids want to come to the toothbrush guy’s house! The rest of the year, you’re so self-righteous you sit outside and tell your neighbors how they’re candy pitch is just SO terrible because EVERY kid doesn’t ring their doorbell for candy…
      Let’s offer kids Rupp Arena and a communications degree for four years instead of the opportunity to play in MSG and make $150M for the next 15. Let’s offer them “toothbrushes”…they’ll line right up!



    • 4everUKblue
      3:44 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      again you don’t have to like it,support the program….hell you don’t even have to watch them play. You’re just gonna make yourself miserable crying about something you have no control over. Try reciting the serenity prayer.



  7. Trueblue44
    1:43 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Totally get and dig the sentiment here. But the fans are who, in turn, help pay his salary and fill Rupp and travel. I’m all for helping the kids and being about them, but this fan base is as invested in the program moreso than any other program in the country. Therefore, while a minority of opinions are quite ridiculous, can’t discount all.



    • unbridled
      3:07 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Pretty sure everyone is over estimating the impact of the casual fan base. Let’s be honest, most people don’t give money, don’t go to games, and most have never stepped foot on the campus. Pretty sure most fans simply don’t matter and cal is 100% correct as usual



  8. Daddyof3Ballers
    1:54 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    I have a problem with this. I do agree, the kids are the ones who make a great program like employees make a great company. With that being said, make it great! Individuals getting better happens on every team. But our focus in practices shouldn’t be, let’s do things to get you drafted but let’s do things to make us a good team. Off season and individual work outs are for the player. Cal focus on discipline, attention to detail, communication and increase the kids B-ball IQ to better the team. I’m not going to pretend to knw what happens in practices but for 9 years I’ve seen our kids just out talent ppl and never seen them out coach with smart basketball plays. Yes, I’m happy with our success but it kills me to watch bad basketball by great athletes. I would rather see great athletes play the game effectively for the team. Go Cats!



    • Mathlete
      2:42 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      The practices are focused on making the team better. Individual workouts are where players focus on stuff that will make them better players (which also benefits the team).



  9. DG
    1:58 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Fire Cal, call Billy D



    • CatsfaninFL
      2:09 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      If we fire Cal after his success there will literally be BCG level coaches who say no to us. Just take a look at UT football. Over zealous and over reactionary thinking will only get us in trouble in the long run. We literally have a HOF coach. You may not like his style but guy has been a success here by every metric.

      Also, what makes you think Billy would leave the Thunder at this point?



    • Booby Petrino
      2:09 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Fire Cal, bring back Billy G!



    • DG
      3:21 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Billy just wants to try out NBA as he has flirted with it before. He just does not seem to work with those players and personalities. It’s a totally different game compared to college.

      No there would not be a BCG level coach, it would be better than that slop. Ideally, Billy Donovan would take it.



    • 4everUKblue
      3:46 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      I’m sure Billy D is sitting by the phone praying Cal has been fired and UK is calling him for the job…..LOL. Because he’s got nothing else going on. He already turned us down once. Or don’t you remember that?



  10. CatsfaninFL
    2:00 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    I think the key here is this is Cal’s sales pitch. If you don’t think he doesn’t care about winning or championships you are honestly just crazy. This is the same guy whose biggest goal is to go 40-0. That’s not players first… that’s GOAT status for TEAMS. He cares about winning and the program, a lot. But he feels the way to succeed in todays age is to take care of his players first. Their success means ours (as fans) in the end. I just think people take it too seriously when he says players first instead of just realizing it’s how he sells to these kids.



    • runningunnin.454
      2:25 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Absolutely, if people can’t see that “players first”, ” be the best you can be” also elevates the team and the program…then they have no concept of logical thought.



  11. tree_gardener
    2:14 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Everyone on here bashing Cal is crazy and apparently hasn’t paid attention to what he has done at all in previous years. Good God. R-E-L-A-X



  12. runningunnin.454
    2:15 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Nattering nabobs of negativity…I like that; very poetic. Also, too nice, they’re a$$holes.



  13. Catcasey1
    2:22 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Totally agree with you catsfaninfl



  14. Bobbum Man
    2:25 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Heck just look at this comment section…. we have some truly idiotic fans can’t say I blame him… keep doing what ur doing Cal!



  15. secrick
    2:30 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Skeps, Has some good points. We all do.



  16. Mathlete
    2:51 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

    – Richard Branson, Founder/CEO/President of Virgin, and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world

    Apply the same logic to taking care of players first and you’ll understand why Cal thinks it’s the path to success.



  17. Bullitt County UK fan
    2:56 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    In address to the final passing remark, it doesn’t matter how many veterans the team returns or whether the players are from Kentucky or anything. If Calipari wins another championship, and the team is full of selfish freshmen, no fan will complain. Rings are the only things that please the BBN.



  18. runningunnin.454
    3:04 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    All so hysterical; Cal throws a rock, and listen to all the dogs yelping.
    He’s just not going to pay any attention to critics that know nothing about coaching or the game.



    • CatsfaninFL
      3:57 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Right?! Hahah



  19. DelrayCat
    3:25 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Cracks are forming all around the program…but only because Cal ain’t won no second title…period.



    • DelrayCat
      3:28 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      If he never wins a second, his time at Kentucky will be deemed largely a disappointment, regardless of all his draft picks, NBA stars, wins, and even final fours. A second title and he shut the haters for good. But until that happens, he gonna have to live with some loud criticisms.



    • 4everUKblue
      3:47 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      Bet that will keep him awake at night.



    • ukcamel
      4:33 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      How many coaches have won 2 titles in their first 8 years? It took Dean Smith over 30, Joe B. Hall and Pitino never did. Calhoun got his first after 15 years. Izzo or Bill Self never got number 2, and I don’t hear anyone calling them a disappointment.

      That is just a ridiculous standard.



  20. Blue Boy
    3:38 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    I’m starting to believe we are all being had. #SmokeandMirrors
    This is just silly. From these comments to his presser with the Duke mentions. I don’t know anymore. I’ll pause before I make any definitive statements or comments. My thoughts and emotions are wavering.



  21. BigEastCat
    4:03 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    You may not pay attention to us Mr Calapari….fact is we are losing interest in you as well……



  22. bosch8184
    4:12 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    The constant turnover is old. The constant same struggles every year is old and boring. Pretending like any of these guys care about Kentucky is old. Watching Cal take A talent and turn it into B teams every year (except 1) is old.

    If that makes me a bad fan, then so be it.

    To answer the question: Yes he should pass on some (not all) one & done types in favor of some 3 to 4 year players. A 3 star junior is likely to be better than a 5 star freshman with one foot out the door.

    Also, Cal is losing his touch on big men post KAT, lotta whiffs lately. Skal was horrible, Bam was just decent, Nick Richards is a total bust. Not a good trendline.



  23. BlueDew
    4:29 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Let see, players first program. What does that look like? Recruit 5 star players resulting in a top 1-2 recruiting classes. Player development to the point that most if not all are drafted into the NBA. Our program trumpets this success, of getting players to NBA. Our program has larger than life banners everywhere around the program of these NBA players to help woo five star recruits. This is all good, except certain people become offended if fans want more national championships from what is being touted as top professional talent. Some fans believe we are under achieving. Alabama football, top 1-2 recruiting classes every year. Every year several players are drafted into the NFL, a lot in first round.
    Recruits are told come here and we will develop your skills for NFL. Could be called a players first football program? They also win national championships with their talent. They even replace a player at QB that is 25-2 to win NC. If HC had used QB player first philosophy, they wouldn’t had won NC. It’s called accountability.



    • unbridled
      8:49 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      There is a significant difference in winning a football national championship and a basketball championship. It’s night and day. No way around that.



    • EdC
      9:42 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

      It is also disingenuous to recruit all 5 stars and act like they got into the NBA because of you. The very reason they were recruited is because they were already going to get into the NBA.



  24. Swizzle
    4:40 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    If it related to more titles, like he claimed it would. They’re wouldn’t be an issue. And also duke is now passed us in recruiting. So loyalty to not just players but turd assistants that can’t recruit like barbee. Are also hurting us.



    • Catsfan1715
      12:47 am January 25, 2018 Permalink

      He can only get the 2nd best recruiting class. He MUST be a turd! Lol hilarious



  25. UK_fac_boi
    5:51 pm January 24, 2018 Permalink

    Bwaaaahh I’m a little baby who needs my opinions on 18 year old taken seriously. Sports is all I have bwaaahh! That’s all of you right now. Get a life and leave your moms basement.



  26. twilkjr
    12:23 am January 25, 2018 Permalink

    SKEPS I am afraid you are fighting losing battle with UKCAMEL. This individual is what is known as an elitist, he made it clear that he is more important than you. He will try to say that he only means that his opinion on this is more important, when actually he feels superior to you and most people in all aspects of life. Chances are he is a Dr and a Liberal.



    • bdmnky81
      3:05 am January 25, 2018 Permalink

      Actually, UKCamels idea that those with more money should have more of an opinion snuggles right up next to the Citizens United decision, one championed by the right. Also, did you just try to make being a Doctor out to be an Insult?!?!



  27. Catsfan1715
    12:41 am January 25, 2018 Permalink

    So I’m sitting here with my brother (UL fan) and best friend (UCONN fan) reading some of these comments to them. They about crapped their pants laughing at just how rough we have it. What with all the top 3 draft classes, conference titles, final fours and NBA superstar alumni. Tough times for BBN…



  28. bdmnky81
    8:03 am January 25, 2018 Permalink

    Very tough times. I suspect that most of the negative comments stem from the same 3 clowns with multiple accounts. Im waiting for them to pull a durant and forget to switch accounts before back their own comments up…