It’s time for a John Calipari classic.
It was 26 years ago today that former Temple head coach John Chaney threatened to kill John Calipari (then the head coach at UMass) following a game between the two coaches that resulted in Calipari earning a one-point victory over Chaney’s squad. It was one of the most bizarre episodes to ever go down in a postgame press conference.
It happened like this.
Calipari was the quickly ascending new face of the A-10 conference back in the early 1990s. He turned around a UMass program in just two years that had essentially been a basketball laughing stock for decades. Just a few years into his tenure, Cal began to take over the league. One of the opponents he had to get past before he could do so was the John Chaney-led Temple teams.
At the time of the fight, Temple and UMass were both nationally ranked teams. This game, in particular, was broadcasted on ABC. UMass guard, Mike Williams, hit a shot at the buzzer to secure a 56-55 win over Temple on that night, but the game didn’t go without some criticism of the referees.
It has been rumored that Calipari spoke to one of the officials about some calls made during the game while Chaney was conducting his postgame interviews. Chaney apparently got wind of what Cal had done from one his assistants which ultimately led to the infamous debacle that saw a Divison I head coach threaten to kill another.
There’s a great oral history of the incident from the perspective of UMass players and associates (and one of the referees who claims Calipari did not confront a ref after the game) that you can read here.
The two are apparently friends now, but just imagine if that happened in 2020. Twitter would melt.
My friend John Chaney turned 87 today. I know everyone still remembers when I tried to choke him — or wait, did he try to choke me? I can’t remember. LOL. A true Hall of Fame basketball coach but even better at developing young men. I miss our battles. Happy birthday, Coach!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 21, 2019