John Calipari is the best thing to happen to Kentucky basketball ever. There I said it, more importantly, it’s true.
Kentucky basketball fans are as passionate as any fan base in the country. Basketball is a way of life in the Bluegrass state. It brings families together, and creates new friendships that will last a lifetime. Wildcat basketball is the greatest unifying force the state has ever seen. So why do some insist on ruining it?
After Kentucky’s Elite Eight loss, a small number of fans and media questioned if John Calipari has overstayed his welcome in Lexington in laughable, but embarrassing fashion on social media. The question doesn’t even dignify an answer, but I’ll give you one anyway – HELL NO!
Before being named head coach of the most storied college basketball program of all time, Kentucky had fallen on hard, hard times. Remember Billy Gillispie? If you don’t, or need a friendly reminder, he’s the gentleman that encouraged one of his players to goaltend a free throw then lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a week later. The following year, he led Kentucky to the prestigious NIT Tournament. To be fair, Kentucky was in a downward spiral prior to Captain Bud Light’s arrival in Lexington. The ‘Cats has been to just one Final Four in a decade.
In comes John Calipari and overnight, everything changed. It took just one week for the nations number 4 overall prospect to commit to Kentucky. Then came Eric Bledsoe, joined shortly after by all world point guard, John Wall. In one month’s time, Kentucky was the “it” program.
Fast forward ten seasons. Kentucky has won more games than any other team in college basketball. They’ve been to more Elite 8’s, they’ve been to more Final 4’s, they’ve won a national championship, and put 38 players in the NBA.
Still, some fans are not happy.
The truth is, if you’re not happy now, you’ll probably never be. John Calipari has taken Kentucky basketball from the depths of hell to its rightful place on top of the mountain. His family has embraced Lexington and all that comes with holding the highest profile job in all of basketball, college or professional. A quick peek behind the UK bench Sunday, and you would have seen how much the University and winning means to the family.
John Calipari works tirelessly, gives back to the community and has helped dozens of student-athletes achieve their dream. He’s helping fan achieve theirs too.
Today, in response to UCLA’s offer of six years, $48 million, to leave Lexington for Southern California, Kentucky has offered Calipari a lifetime contract. The contract would include a 10-year deal to remain Kentucky’s coach and the chance to serve as a “paid ambassador” when he decides to retire. Kentucky should just give Calipari Lexington, it would be worth it.