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You Should Read Gary Parrish’s Column on Cal’s Return to Memphis

CBS Sports writer Gary Parrish knows John Calipari well.  The Memphis native cheered for the Tigers as a child, and grew up to be their beat writer for five years for The Commercial Appeal, the city’s newspaper.  Few people are more familiar with the precarious position John Calipari is in than Parrish.

Tomorrow Calipari returns to the FedEx Forum for the first time since March 14, 2009.  Here’s how things changed since his last game in Memphis.

When he left Memphis for Kentucky on April 1, 2009, while the NCAA was investigating Derrick Rose’s fraudulent standardized test score that ultimately caused the 2008 season to be vacated, UK fans who previously called Calipari a slimy cheater embraced him with open arms while Memphis fans who treated him like a god decided he was the devil. It’s all ridiculous, of course, because Calipari’s not much different in 2017 than he was in 2007. His zip code changed. But he didn’t. And I’ve never understood how hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even millions, can have their view of a human flip so drastically based on where that human works.

Parrish paints a broad picture of the dichotomy for the people of Memphis: they either want to see him fail, and fail hard, or they’re just happy he was, and is still a part of their city.  There are plenty of the former, few of the latter, but Don Deweese, the owner of Gibson’s Donuts, understands Calipari’s decision and appreciates everything he did for Memphis.

“He had to take the Kentucky job. … Now I understand some people’s bitterness because if he would’ve stayed we would’ve had those players —  [John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Xaver Henry and Eric Bledsoe] — and we would’ve won the national championship that next year. So I understand the bitterness about that. But John Calipari was good for Memphis. He was good for Gibson’s Donuts. And he has done so many good things for people in Memphis that people don’t even know about. He’s still probably the biggest supporter of Streets Ministries. So he’s still helping the youth in Memphis today. People don’t realize that.”

Read this to help you understand the situation: As Kentucky’s John Calipari returns to Memphis, is he more hated than appreciated?

Article written by Nick Roush

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

7 Comments for You Should Read Gary Parrish’s Column on Cal’s Return to Memphis

  1. plumloopy
    11:37 pm March 23, 2017 Permalink

    While it was a dark time at U.K. we were still the winiingest program of all time. I don’t recall people really worrying about Memphis, nor calling Cal “slimy.”

  2. Memphis UK Cat
    11:51 pm March 23, 2017 Permalink

    Memphis fans are stupid and still in denial. I love making fun of them.

  3. katmandue2you
    2:16 am March 24, 2017 Permalink

    It’s very simple. How many National Championships does Memphis have? How dumb do you have to be to not understand why Cal took this job. Actually it’s not just about National Championships. Memphis has respectable tradition and a very good program. The same could be said about 30-40 other programs that you could say about them. There is only one Kentucky. The combination of tradition, fan support, championships etc etc. You dont have to like it…. but you gotta be an idiot not to plainly see why Cal left to come here. Hell Memphis…your biggest claim to historical fame was waging war with Little Brother back in the Metro…and you even came in second then!!

  4. catsarerunnin
    7:16 am March 24, 2017 Permalink

    Memphis is a great coaching job. Just ask Josh Pastner.

  5. UKfanman01
    8:11 am March 24, 2017 Permalink

    I actually wanted Calipari or Sean Miller. I was never rooting for Billy G or D to snag the job

  6. grofacekillah
    9:53 am March 24, 2017 Permalink


    Maybe you’re very young but Matt Jones himself called Cal slimy and said he didn’t want him. Most of the fanbase agreed post-Tubby, Mitch got desperate after the Billy G debacle and hired him. Worked out well clearly.

  7. dballrb
    12:59 pm March 24, 2017 Permalink

    How I miss the Ole Metro conference..,didn’t X Henry end up at Kan-ass?..It could’ve been worse,at least UK didn’t end up with lying Jim.