Blog Entry

Thoughts about Coach Cals words

Posted on: April 25, 2011 2:30 pm
Calipari described what a "players-first" program meant to him.  It was brief, but it explained his philosophy about college basketball in this era of "one and done".

The first thing he stated is the fact that he doesn't "make outlandish promises" about playing time, minutes, positions, etc.  In this case, what he doesn't say is also instructive -- Calipari doesn't say that he doesn't make promises about these things, he says that he doesn't make promises that he cannot keep.

That might sound like a small thing, but the concept of keeping promises by being honest is the single most important factor why Calipari's reputation with players is what it is.  No matter what the media, jaded fans, and former coaches think about Calipari and his methods, past and present coaching, and no matter how many argue he's a  "cheater" or he's "slimy" that we see from those that despise him, the truth is that today's recruits know him where most of the media pundits don't -- they know him, and moe importantly they respect him. For one single thing. He tells them the truth.

That's the reason none of his former or current players speak badly of him. Even players in the NBA who never played for him speak highly of him, and it''s not his charming personality or nice suits.  He tells them the truth and keeps his word, because he obviously doesn't give it carelessly.

The second principle Calipari discussed:

The second part is that once the season begins, we are teaching players to be the teammate they want to play with. Our whole focus is on team play. I want individuals to play well but I’m getting them to understand nothing of significance will be accomplished by themselves.

There are alot of things, as most of us know, to being a good teammate than just practicing and playing hard.  We have seen it the last two years at Kentucky when the highly reguarded recruits come in.  They are used to being #1 on their high school teams and most, if not all, have never had to think in team concept terms, and what's best for the overall team and not just themselves.

The first and most important thing we all learn about being a good teammate is sacrifice -- we must sacrifice our desires, our wants and our glory for that of the team, and force our natural desire to excel into the proper place in a team concept. Every successful marriage learns how to do that eventually -- the two partners must give up things that they otherwise love to do, at least some of the time, in order to make the family work.

The final principle Calipari discusses is the thing that most of the media pundits ridicule--when the season is over, Calipari considers it his job to "help them make the best decisions, with the best information I can give them, for them and their families."  Often, this means advising them to pack their bags and become a professional basketball player, to the apparent detriment of Kentucky basketball and Calipari's own personal best interests and goals.

How anyone can criticize this philosophy is simply beyond any rational defense.  It would be unethical and selfish like those that condemn him if John Calipari tried to convince players to return to school and risk injury or a bad season rather than to take the millions of dollars represented by a NBA contract.  As many have so often stated, there is no degree program in college that pays what an NBA team does to a first-round draft choice.  There are no letters after your name that will earn you as much money in ten to fifteen years as an NBA salary will. 

That makes the ideology that the press and many past and present college coaches continually tries to pass off on the public as genuine, valuable, and worthy one of the most dishonest, deceitful, forms of coercion or trickery in the history of college basketball as well as reporting. Simply because people who read and listen want to hear the viewpoint in detailed statements that "student-athletes" are players who come to school first, and play basketball second.

What I respect and admire about Calipari is that he has the courage to be honest. He's not a hypocrite that pretends to subscribe to the mainstream logic and falsely claims to support that he would prefer the old days and "how things used to be" or "how it should be" that the press always brings up this time of year to soothe and comfort the idealists, elitists, and college administrators. 

Calipari doesn't tell players not to stay in school, he doesn't "push" anyone out the door, he simply points out to them life's realities, what the consequences of each decision is, and tries to get them as much information about what is likely to happen if they declare for the draft or stay another year as possible.  The decisions these players make are the same ones anyone else would make. That's life. That's reality.

Most people just won't admit it.

Category: NCAAB
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