John Calipari Rumors
And this was at the USA Basketball camp in July in Las Vegas: John Calipari was there since, well, it seems like half the players in the NBA these days once played for him; just supporting his guys. One of his favorites, Rose from Calipari’s time at the U. of Memphis, was missing and Calipari was a little surprised. So Calipari called Rose. “I say where are you?” Calipari related during the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame week ceremonies earlier this month when Calipari was being enshrined. “He says, ’Coach, I’m telling you, I’m coming back.’ He said, ‘I want to win a championship for Chicago and I’m going to be the MVP again.’ “I hung up,” Calipari recalled, “and I went right to Gar Forman and said, ‘It’s back on. I’m just telling you.’”
From Marcus Camby, who helped him build a program at Massachusetts, to Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, who solidified a powerhouse at Kentucky, Calipari was backed by dozens of the players who have made him one of college basketball’s most successful coaches. “As you can see, I have been blessed to have all those opportunities,” Calipari said, “but the reason I stand here is more about the players I’ve coached.”
That combination of talk and walk propelled an unknown with a marketing degree to the head-coaching position at UMass, to an NBA front office, and to Memphis, where a dormant program soon became a national powerhouse. The blend of quality basketball and quality branding took him past administrative skepticism to the top of the college hoops mountain, to those Big Blue Madness stages, to the fireworks and light shows and political-convention teleprompters. Now, that understanding that has brought John Calipari, finally, to the National Basketball Hall of Fame.