Earlier today, The Ringer’s Tate Frazier published an article titled, How John Calipari Blurs the Line Between College Coach and NBA Agent. In it, Frazier argues that Calipari’s unique, highly-publicized “players first” philosophy nuances the distinction of “promotor and mentor.”
“Usually, the one closest to a player is an agent – think Leon Rose – but Calipari has practically co-opted this position for himself. Before the 2016 NBA draft, Calipari made his rounds through the ESPN car wash to pitch ‘his guys,’ stating that he believed Murray should be taken first in the draft over Ben Simmons and dismissing Ulis’s hip-injury concerns. He even claimed that Murray would lead all rookies in scoring next season. His push to get his players paid isn’t shameful – it’s admirable – but it’s rare for a coach to be this blatant about it. Calipari sees himself as college basketball’s Robin Hood, and five-star recruits are his Merry Men.”
Frazier went on to highlight last month’s notorious Kentucky-Duke war of words and subtweets, spearheaded by 2017 five-star recruit Hamidou Diallo’s comments about Calipari’s NBA-driven recruiting pitch in contrast to Mike Krzyewski’s more conventional approach.
Though Frazier concludes the feature with a contentious question of whether Calipari’s players perform at a high level once reaching the league, the story is worth a read. Calipari is who he is, whether you like it or not.