Tyler and I were at the Calipari estate all night for a fantasy camp party so we’re tag teaming tonight’s night post to get it done on time. It has been a fun weekend being flies on the wall of the camp, and you’ll find our observations from the first two days below:
La Familia is back together
Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Patrick Patterson helped out with day two of the Calipari Fantasy Camp, and clearly enjoyed being back on their old stomping grounds. You could tell that they were genuinely excited about being back on campus and around each other. Davis and MKG rode the stationary bikes for about twenty minutes and smiled and laughed the entire time. Earlier in the week, Cal said that he was excited about the pros coming back because they would be able to play with the current players and report to him on their progress, and from what we’ve seen, they’ve been taking that task very seriously. DeMarcus has especially embraced the role of “big brother,” giving advice to the current players left and right, sometimes in a way only DeMarcus could (hint: schooling them on the court).
It’s also remarkable to see how much the guys have changed physically since entering the league. DeMarcus has slimmed down considerably, and seems much quicker on the court. One of the few criticisms of Boogie’s play in the league so far has been that he’s too slow to get into position defensively. Maybe a leaner (probably even meaner) DeMarcus will quiet his critics this season. Anthony Davis has also bulked up, especially in the arms, no longer looking like the lanky beanpole he did a few years ago. Watching Cal embrace his “sons” as they come into the gym is a wonderful reminder of the empire he’s built since coming here four years ago.
This team is having fun
Whether it be messing around on the court, handing out towels, or cheering on the campers, the current team is clearly having a good time. After last season’s lows, it’s good to see the players simply having fun out there, and according to those who were here last year, they’re much more engaged in the camp than last year’s squad. Throughout the weekend, I’ve wondered how strange this event must seem to the players–millionaires paying good money to basically play their role for three days. Although I’m sure it is totally bizarre to them, they are being incredibly good sports. When the games are close, they take their role as managers very seriously, leaping up at the buzzer if their team wins. In addition, they are genuinely kind to the campers. As I write this, Andrew Harrison just gave up his seat to a guy who just finished up a game.
Swaggy Cal is back
I had an awesome John Calipari interaction this morning. I was watching one of the early games, and Cal came in and observed the play for a while, turned to us and grinned. “They all freeze up when I come in, it’s great.” He laughed and continued to stroll between the gyms, putting the “Cal jinx” on whichever team he watched. Calipari is clearly in a great mood, and with great reason: he knows his team is good. Simply put, Cal has his swag back, and isn’t afraid to spread the joy.
Jason Taylor still has it
The randomness of Jason Taylor eventually wore off and has been replaced by some major admiration for his talent. Taylor obviously isn’t a basketball player at heart, but because he’s so athletic, he still dominates games against guys who have been playing the sport their whole lives. Even better, between the women at the camp and his kids, he has the most rabid fan base here. His sons make the Cameron Crazies look tame. Seriously, they have yelled, stomped and chanted their tiny little hearts out. Example A:
John Robic was not amused.
Jay Bilas roasted John Calipari. And it was hilarious.
Bilas emceed the awards dinner in Calipari’s backyard Sunday night and he used the opportunity to roast Coach Cal and the other coaches in attendance. Seth Greenberg was on the receiving end of most of Bilas’ best material — he was ALL OVER Greenberg — but Calipari took his share of jabs from the Billastrator.
Bilas joked about Cal being full of himself, saying he has new book called “The 10 Greatest Men In History And What I Think About The Other Nine”, before commenting on the diaper changing stations in the new UK locker room and few other jokes for mature audiences only. It was quite a show.
Coach Cal watches Storage Wars and Swamp People.
Next time Cal mentions how busy he is, just know that he has enough time to watch reality television, terrible reality television at that. During the auction he pointed out that one of the campers looks like “the guy from Storage Wars” and then he went on about how he and Ellen watch HGTV and Swamp People. He did his best Swamp People impersonation, too, and I’d give anything to have video of his performance. It was classic.
Calipari’s backyard is pretty awesome.
Here’s a shot of the pool area…
Bilas will be on the radio show tomorrow morning. Be sure to tune in.
That’ll do it for tonight.