There was a great moment during last night’s press conference when John Calipari spotted C.M. Newton in the back of the media room.
“C.M. Newton, how are ya!” Calipari exclaimed, genuine surprise and delight in his voice. “With the beard, I’ll tell you what!”
Of course, Newton played basketball at Kentucky from 1949-1951 and was later the head basketball coach at Transylvania, Alabama, and Vanderbilt before returning to Kentucky to serve as athletic director from 1989 to 1999. C.M. now lives in Tuscaloosa and attends Alabama basketball games from time to time, always when the Cats are in town.
After the postgame press conferences wrapped up, Newton was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about his night and seeing Calipari.
“John [Calipari] has been a good friend for a long period of time, just as Avery has been for a long period of time. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being old, is you’re able to take these young whippersnappers and be friendly to them,” he joked.
Once his media duties were over, Calipari came over and gave Newton a big hug in the back of the media room, a touching moment that Newton said meant a lot to him.
“It was very meaningful,” Newton said, mentioning how his son, Martin, used to work as the Director of Basketball Operations at Kentucky under Calipari before accepting the job as the athletics director at Samford in 2011. “It was a great moment. Cal is very special.”
What did C.M. think of his alma mater’s performance tonight?
“I thought it was a well-played basketball game, particularly by Kentucky. They just whopped on Alabama and I really didn’t expect it. I don’t know what the coaches expected, but I didn’t expect it.”
It says a lot that, even on the road, Calipari reaches out to make his friends and UK family feel at home.