On his Thursday morning guest appearance on KSR, John Calipari was asked about the recent comments made by Rick Pitino and some of the former players about the absence of a 1996 title team reunion in Lexington. Pitino said UK will give a lot of excuses, but the team isn’t being honored because of him and the distraction it would cause. There has been a small outcry from the public, too
To that, Calipari said he didn’t know anything about it until recently when some of the former players called him to say they are fine with it. Cal then went on to say he is a “gather” and welcomes back any and all former Wildcats, whenever and for whatever reason they want to come back.
His full response:
I hadn’t heard anything about it, okay. And then yesterday or the day before, someone mentioned something to me and I go — the only reason I knew is because a bunch of those players were calling me and saying, ‘Look man we’re fine. Wherever this is coming from, it ain’t coming from us.’
So, you know when you think about — and you know me and the fans out there that know me — I’m a gather, I don’t keep anyone away. Nazr (Mohammed) brought the Oklahoma City team here for four days a couple years ago if you remember; he brought the whole team here. Tayshaun was in our gym yesterday. I hired Wayne Turner. I hired Tony Delk. I hired Scott Padgett. I hired Marquis (Estill). Those guys never played for me. They didn’t play for me, but I hired them.”
“Whether it’s Kenny “Sky” Walker or whether it’s Sam Bowie or whether it’s Mike Pratt, they’re all welcome here. The only thing I would say — the university is going through a process to try to figure out how you honor teams. How do you do it? When do you do it? They need to get a process and it has nothing to do with me. I think the players that called me wanted me to know — I never knew about any of this and I don’t think there is an issue with any of us and our kids.
To be fair, the university honored the 1996 team with new championship rings three years ago. Cal hinted that he actually bought the rings when he asked KSR, “Did the school buy the rings? Or did I buy the rings? What would you guess? Did the school buy them or did Cal buy them? What would your guess be? … I like to try to take credit for just about everything.”
He then went on to say the Kentucky basketball program is much bigger than him, which is why he has an open door policy for anyone who made it what it is today:
This is not about me. This program was started by Adolph Rupp. The rest of us just kind of borrowed the seat for a while. What I’ve chosen to do is be a gatherer and make sure they all know they’re welcome. If we haven’t and my staff hasn’t been in touch with these guys as much as we should, then that’s on me. But there’s no intent here because we care about all of them. I hired a bunch of them. They never played for me. It’s all good. Our fans shouldn’t worry about it.
Lastly, Cal used a new Cal-ism while explaining that he doesn’t listen to any of the negative talk about him out there, whether it be from Pitino or anyone else:
If you respond to every barking dog, you ain’t getting home. Just keep walking; march on. I ain’t listening to all this. Listen, I don’t listen to radio. I’ve never listened to you on radio, and I don’t care what you say or what you do. Matter fact, there was a time you used to kill me. Why am I listening to it? I don’t even watch the TV. A newspaper? You know the only time I see newspapers is when I drive over them in the morning. I don’t care about newspapers.
If you’re listening to every barking dog, you’re never getting home. I don’t listen to any of them. You bark on while I march on.
“You bark on while I march on.” Love it.
Listen to the entire clip from the show: