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Power Ranking the Ten Dumbest Controversies of the Calipari Era


There are many things that make the Big Blue Nation great.  A loyal group that is basketball savvy (a.k.a. basketball bennies), wherever the team is playing, blue will get in.  Just like everything in life, with the good, there is some bad.  For a select few, the torches and pitchforks can be ready at moment’s notice, ready to throw their coach and team under the bus.

Freddie Maggard has taught me a valuable lesson: “Never tell fans how to fan.”  I can’t tell adults how to treat their team, but I can tell adults they’re being stupid.  These are the times “you people are crazy” acted as a double-edged sword.

* Admittedly, some of these “controversies” are not entirely contrived by Kentucky fans.  

10. Cal Sends Obama a No. 44 UK Jersey

Calipari’s first major controversy was a controversy I did not know about until today.  Before coaching a game for Kentucky, the head coach decided to send POTUS a UK jersey.  Naturally, people were EXTREMELY upset.

Calipari responded on Facebook, but deleted it shortly after due to “negative comments.”  A small portion of that response: “Don’t you think it’s a good thing if we get some Kentucky blue in that White House?”

9. 500 458 Wins

After the Cats defeated Florida, Coach Cal was awarded the game ball for his 500th win.  Technically, it wasn’t his 500th win.  “Take it back, take it back!” The NCAA demanded.  They couldn’t let Calipari receive recognition for the 42 games that were vacated after Marcus Camby hired an agent and Derrick Rose sketched through his ACT.

8. 2012’s Free Throw Gate

During the UofL game, Pitino’s first win over Calipari at UK, Alex Poythress took a pair of free throws that should’ve gone to Nerlens Noel.  The error was by the officials, not an attempt for the coach to cheat.  Still, he was forced to defend himself.

“I thought Alex got fouled.  Why would I put Alex at the line? He can’t make any shots? I would have had more confidence in Nerlens at that point,” he said a few days later.   “I wasn’t on the grassy knoll in ’63…I wasn’t even in Dallas.”

7. Willie Cauley-Stein’s Hair

People tolerated Willie’s antics, but many could not contain their takes once he went blonde.  Did it affect his play?  Of course not.  Still, people believed it was an unnecessary distraction.


6. Cal’s Sweatsuit

This was a silly, unnecessary jab.  What makes it even stranger is that the column condemning Cal’s postgame attire came from UNC’s official website.

You can hate the game because the opponent was Kentucky and being in the same building with them reminds you of exactly how differently things work in Lexington. John Calipari arrived at his postgame press conference with his tie off, top two buttons on his shirt unbuttoned, and having changed into blue jeans. There are not two top-level programs in America right now that arrive at the end result off the court more differently than Carolina and Kentucky.

Somebody was mad Monk went for 47.

5. & 4. Andrew and Aaron Harrison

I don’t know what exactly it is about the Harrison Twins that rubbed fans the wrong way.  Maybe it was their body language.  Maybe it was all of the squinting.  Maybe the expectations were too high.  Except they did go to a National Championship and lead the team to a 38-0 start before finishing the season in the Final Four.  And Aaron Harrison did the most clutch thing anyone’s ever done in a Kentucky uniform…THREE times.

The most magical moment of my life gets me teary-eyed every single time, yet there’s still animosity from some fans for the way it ended.

3. Malik Monk’s Smile

Aside from the fact that the Florida student-section was objectively hilarious, those who question Monk’s will to win conveniently forgot the cojones he displayed just three days earlier, scoring 31 second half points and forcing overtime with 10 seconds to play.  The 47-point performance against UNC should be enough proof, and that isn’t the only time he’s put the team on his back.

2. Calipari Forgot His Daughter’s Birthday

Of all the silly outrages, this one is the silliest.  Cal wished his daughter Megan a Happy 25th Birthday on Sunday November 22, 2014.  Her 25th birthday was actually November 23, 2014.  The first Google search result is from ABC News.  Imagine how much press he would get if he caddied for his daughter…

1. The 2010 NBA Draft

“I’d like to say it’s the biggest day in the history of Kentucky’s program.”  That hyperbole sparked anger from plenty of fans and former players, including Dan Issel. “The dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Issel told Jerry Tipton.

Instead of accepting his statement, many will never get over it.  Hopefully that’s changed after a couple of All-Americans, four Final Fours in seven years and a National Title, but that’s probably just wishful thinking.

An essential component to being a fan is the irrational, emotional response invoked each time you watch your favorite team play.  However, there’s a fine line between being a fan and a fanatic.

Today is February 6.  It was March 1 when Aaron Harrison said after losing to a mediocre South Carolina team, “We know what we can do, and it’s going to be a great story.”

If that lesson still hasn’t sunk in, enjoy being angry.  Just please keep your torches and pitchforks away from my timeline.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

47 Comments for Power Ranking the Ten Dumbest Controversies of the Calipari Era

  1. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    11:11 am February 7, 2017 Permalink

    What is interesting about this list is that KSR had at least two different posts condemning Monk’s smiling itself…
    So by saying the fans are being stupid you are really saying your co-writers are being stupid.

    • ukjaybrat
      11:23 am February 7, 2017 Permalink

      to be fair, both of those articles said this was a nonstory. ksr isn’t the ones making a big deal about it, it was the massive number of idiots on twitter.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      11:50 am February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Now now…a person doesn’t have to be stupid to occasionally write stupid things. Just look at me!

  2. leon singleton
    11:30 am February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Should have send Obama jersey number Zero..

  3. catsarerunnin
    11:46 am February 7, 2017 Permalink

    This article should be in the KSR Power Ranking of Top Ten Dumbest Articles.

  4. t_f_licker
    12:08 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    I feel like this article is supposed to brain wash people into not having an opinion. The kid was laughing on the bench after getting throttled. How is a fan supposed to react?

    • the ghost of Bill Hicks
      12:48 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      By realizing that 19 year old kids do things that irritate people who haven’t been 19 years old in DECADES.

    • t_f_licker
      5:17 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Cause that’s what KSR tells us to do!!

  5. jholcomb
    12:09 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    This site and the actual radio show have become so intolerant of any opinion other than their own that is becoming increasingly difficult to listen (or read). MJ is just downright rude and very condescending.

    • runningunnin.454
      12:28 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Matt is entitled to his opinion….the trick is to hang up before he responds; like the caller this morning.
      “Now is the best time to be a UK fan…and Trump is President”. CLICK.

    • symphonist41169
      12:42 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      The vibe I got from this post is this: To be a “true” fan you should never have the audacity to question, doubt, criticize, or have a different opinion than the ones who are mixing the Kool Aid. I’m thrilled Cal is our coach and think there’s not another coach anywhere that’s a more perfect fit for their program. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll always share the same opinions of him all the time (see Controversy #1 above). Even though Matt Jones (and I would assume most of his employees) is a liberal, only people sharing the same opinions are allowed to speak and all others are rudely shouted down or cut off with a “I appreciate the call” hang-up. Same with these comments; if you DARE write something that isn’t KoolAid-induced towing the line you’re automatically labeled a “troll”.

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:44 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      U mad.

    • symphonist41169
      12:47 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Not at all. U bored?

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:53 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      “Even though Matt Jones (and I would assume most of his employees) is a liberal, only people sharing the same opinions are allowed to speak and all others are rudely shouted down or cut off with a “I appreciate the call” hang-up. Same with these comments; if you DARE write something that isn’t KoolAid-induced towing the line you’re automatically labeled a “troll”.”

      U mad.

    • TBW3011
      2:07 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Not sure if he’s mad, but he is correct. I know Matt will crack up if he reads that post, but it is very true. Liberals have zero tolerance of any other viewpoint and think talking louder wins an argument. Both sides can be incredibly stupid at times, but those 2 things are practically the cricks and mortar of liberal thought process.

    • TBW3011
      2:04 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Correct. Just like his definitive statement this morning that zone was terrible against Florida. Reality is it was quite effective against them in the first half. We practically didn’t play any in the 2nd half. Same as against Georgia. Cal even said last night how effective it’s been. Think he said opponents are 9 for 34 against it the last 2 games.

    • kvltclassic
      3:22 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Conservatives are very open to the opinions of other people.

    • kvltclassic
      3:23 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Champions of diversity I would say.

    • TBW3011
      3:35 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      As a conservative I can say that I, and most I know, honestly don’t care if someone agrees with or thinks like me. Liberals think if you don’t think like them you need to be fired, your business should be shut down, etc. I’m in the live and let live camp. Could care less what others think or do, just tell me I have to think what you think. That’s all.

    • Han
      3:25 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      If your opinion can’t stand up to criticism, then you shouldn’t share it publicly.

      That goes both for people criticizing Monk and for KSR criticizing those people.

      Only special snowflakes think no one has a right to tell them they’re wrong.

  6. Mc12
    12:23 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Or the possibility that half the people posting the comments are either trolling UK, or are people who created dummy profiles to impersonate UK fans and humiliate the fan base.

    I don’t think what he did was a big deal. I think social media has just as many negative components as positive. However, if someone made a comment to me in person that they thought it was in bad taste, I don’t think I would have cried about how wrong they were either because I see both perspectives. However, if that same person posted on Monk’s twitter account, I would react differently to them. Again, it’s hard to tell who is a legit UK fan though or who is posing which is why I wouldn’t let any sports related post on social media bother me unless I personally knew the person posting it.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      12:46 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Monk needed to be more aware of the “fish bowl” effect at UK. At the same time, the fact that UK was losing did not make Florida’s birthday song less clever. UF generally has one of the more knuckle-dragging fanbases in the SEC, so perhaps it was good to award them for the effort.

    • Han
      3:39 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Mc12 – while there are plenty of trolls, and it’s impossible to know online if someone is being sarcastic or just believes something crazy…unfortunately, you need look no further than everyone’s favorite subject on KSR to know sometimes people are just stupid and/or jerks. That subject? Politics. Remember, both the Right and Left, Republicans and Democrats, act like the other side is evil and stupid. To a more neutral observer, they’re all being jackasses and ignoring important issues because clickbait media and power hungry politicians have tricked them into hating their neighbor and not educating themselves about how politicians are actually impacting their day-to-day lives.. Look at all the people who come in these comments or who bash Matt on RR for being liberal – they earnestly believe he’s stupid AND condescending. However, Matt’s liberal fans believe the exact same thing about all those conservatives. Who’s right? A little bit of both. Me, I’m a registered Republican who needs the social programs of the Democrats (like about a 3rd of Kentuckians), and I’m sick of everybody acting like “the other side” are the only ones who are intolerant.

      People need to stop acting like college basketball players are supposed to be perfect, and they need to stop harassing them on social media. The right to an opinion doesn’t mean your opinion is right. All it means is the government can’t throw you in jail for it unless you threaten other people.

      Sentient Third Eye – Kentucky effect is real, but this wasn’t even as bad as Mills and Williams laughing while a teammate was hurt (which was more bad timing on their part than callousness). Monk was upset we were losing like all of the guys, but the jeering crowds made him laugh. Nothing wrong with that except in the minds of people who have never done anything wrong or stupid or silly in their life so they’re excellent judges of how spoiled UK players are.

  7. Jiminy Crickets
    12:38 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    the thing is, Monk laughing, in isolation, is absolutely nothing to create controversy. However, if you poll the majority of #BBN, they will say this team shows no heart, shows no effort on defense or rebounding. When they win, they are happy, and when they lose they do not show any sorrow. Monk was laughing throughout the second half of the TN game, and cameras showed him laughing when he hit a 3 to cut the lead, but was still trailing with less than a minute to go. The perception of this team is that they are self-centered and have not bought in. No defense, no rebounding (both effort plays), no team chemistry (as indicated by the lack of assists), and no concerted effort unless the ball is in their hands. When you compound this perception, with an image of Monk laughing out loud, with the score listed below of a 19pt blow-out, It is going to cause an outcry. For KSR or Cal to pretend its “not 1960 anymore” is insulting to the most loyal fanbase in the country.
    All we are asking for is for the players to seem to care. We know they’re gone in 9 months, just don’t rub it in our face that this means nothing to you

    • Sentient Third Eye
      12:42 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      If you look at the teams since Cal has been here, they don’t slowly improve to become contenders. They struggle until the light comes on. Maybe this wakeup call is what they needed to turn the light on. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe the bulb is blown. We’ll know soon enough.

    • justaguyinthebackrow
      1:33 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      I don’t think they’re pretending it’s not 1960 anymore. I’m pretty sure that’s an unassailable fact. *checks calendar* Yep.

    • TBW3011
      2:10 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Bingo. The incident isn’t an incident if you are playing your butt off. It becomes an issue when the teams effort seems to be sub par and then fans use the laughing to further confirm what they have already suspected by watching the actual games.

    • Le Docteur
      3:18 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Jiminy is spot on. And KSR, by busting a gut to justify and excuse the Monk incident, is arguing this: it’s okay for UK players to laugh on the bench when their team is getting its ass kicked; after all, they’re just kids. Rubbish. If there was a TV image of a Louisville player laughing on the bench during a game in which Louisville was getting its ass kicked, KSR would not be so forgiving. To the contrary, KSR would lead the rampant speculation about the player being a thug and Pitino being out of control. And didn’t I just read another post on KSR with extensive quotes from Seth Greenberg about how UK’s team is immature and lacks toughness? Hasn’t immaturity, lack of defensive commitment and discipline been what Cal has been saying about his own team? KSR staked out a position here: BBN is a bunch of “stupid” tools for reacting so negatively at the image of a player laughing (btw, KSR won’t even call it LAUGHING, they call it “smiling”). KSR, you’re in a hole and you just keep digging.

    • Han
      3:44 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      If the score of a game means more to you watching at home than to the player losing on the court, maybe you’re putting too much into sports. Also, laughing on the court or not crying or whatever doesn’t mean Monk or any other player doesn’t care.

      Also, don’t spout that “Only there 9 months, don’t care about the team or school” bull that people like Bobby Knight and rival fans say. These young men are putting more work into playing for the team than most fans are putting into their fandom (that includes working to pay for tickets).

      You’re entitled to your opinion, and I agree that the players don’t seem like they care enough right now, but we don’t know their hearts, or what their experience on the team is outside of what we see on TV. Very, very few of us have been in shoes like theirs, so since they don’t really owe us anything and we’re just watching them play for entertainment, it’s on us to not get so worked up about little things. Be passionate fans, yes. That makes us the best fanbase in the country. But we shouldn’t be entitled, judgmental whiners. Especially when it comes to harassing players on social media like some people do.

  8. symphonist41169
    12:41 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    “However, there’s a fine line between being a fan and a fanatic.” – Wrong. The word “fan” is actually derived from the word “fanatic”.

  9. FlySoup
    1:01 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Honorable mention: has it been given to Brad Calipari or did he earn it?

    • t_f_licker
      5:22 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      It was earned. I saw a tattoo on his chest that said so. I wondered the same thing until I saw that.

  10. justaguyinthebackrow
    1:40 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    That’s the thing about having a fan base as large as BBN. Let’s say there are a million of us (probably higher, but that just helps my point). If just 1% are crazy fanatics who want to fire Cal over every loss and make every little thing a huge controversy, that’s still 10,000 people. If the people commenting online and on social media are mostly from this 1%, it’s going to make controversies appear outsized, when in reality most fans just want to watch a few basketball games a week and root for our boys.

  11. 96ChampionBestTeamEver
    1:44 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Couldn’t disagree more for having it in the top 10 dumbest. For those still making an issue, yes it is stupid now that we know the context. But even Coach himself said at first he thought it didn’t look good. It looked really, really bad on the telecast Saturday evening. It is totally understandable why BBN was furious at first. But of course I guess your job is sort like a press secretary, just defend defend defend no matter what.

    • TBW3011
      2:13 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Cal even said “if this hurts, they’ll change. If not, they won’t.” That’s clearly him questioning whether it hurts or not. Guess Cal is a crazy fan.

  12. Han
    2:01 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Anyone upset about Monk smiling or ranting about him not appreciating the privilege of playing for UK needs to get over themselves. Haven’t any of you ever had your kid do something horrible, and you’re’re scolding the kid, but then the kid gives a hilarious excuse? Your options are to try to stifle a laugh or to leave the room. Anyone with kids or who has babysat has been through that. It’s like that for Monk. He was bummed they were losing, of course, but the Florida fans caught him off guard with a funny way to mock him and he smiled. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t care.

    I hate a lot of Kentucky “fans” sometimes.

    • t_f_licker
      5:25 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Sounds like somebody who’s gotten a lot of participation trophies in their day….

  13. bosshogg24
    2:10 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    NO this is not a dumb controversie, millions at home didn’t know why he was laughing with his team down 19 at the time, it didn’t look good! He was looking toward the floor not at the students or crowd!

    • the ghost of Bill Hicks
      2:13 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink


      And get over yourself.

    • Han
      3:55 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Player does something I don’t like? That justifies all kinds of hate and anger and social media harassment! Stupid kids don’t deserve to play for the team I’ve watched and bought merchandise of my whole life!

      It’s sports, people. I love UK basketball, but that doesn’t give me or anyone the right to act like a child. And if someone does act like a child (player or fan), and they get called out on it, there are mature ways to respond. The fact that people went crazy about it when they didn’t know all the details shows exactly why you shouldn’t get so worked up about this kind of thing.

  14. woohop1
    2:20 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    STILL BELIEVE THE #1 RANKED CONTROVERSY HOLDS TRUE. VERIFIES THE CALIPARI STANDARD: ” It’s all about coach Cal…….” He wants his Legacy to be measured by the number of first round selections instead of the number of National Titles. THE FANS WANT CHAMPIONSHIP BANNERS……NOT CALIPARI BANNERS!

  15. jholcomb
    4:58 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    I wish we could “respectfully disagree” again. Nowadays if you disagree somehow that’s “hate and anger”. Most of the time social media allows the over represented few to have access that was never there before. The minority nutcase voice is given equal weight with the sane voice. I guess that’s the world we live in.