Just two and half months prior to the release of Rick Pitino’s latest book, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has announced that he will write a book. Very original, Cal.
Calipari’s book will be titled “Players First: Success from the Inside Out.” It is expected to go on sale in the spring of 2014. Excerpts from the book have recently been published online courtesy of ThePenguinPress.com. There is one excerpt in particular that really stands out.
Kentucky is college basketball’s legendary program. It has the most wins and the most devoted fan base. (I call them crazy; they watch more game film than I do.) I respect the hell out of the tradition—I’m lucky to be a part of it and I’ve got the best job in basketball—but I don’t do what I do for the commonwealth of Kentucky, for the university, for the legacy of the program, or for the greater glory of Big Blue Nation. There was a time I coached partly for myself—for status, respect, money, wins. But I don’t do that anymore, either. Good for those coaches who get to seven hundred, eight hundred, or even a thousand wins, but I’m not staying in it that long. I can promise you my record will not be on my tombstone.
I coach for the names on the back of the jersey—not the front. My players. They’re sent to me by their fathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, their aunts—whoever in this world raised them and loves them. Others look at their NBA bodies and consider them lucky. Future millionaires, just stopping through before they cash in. That’s not what I see. They’re kids, some of them as young as seventeen. They all need me in a different way. Some want my affection, others my approval. It’s a burden to be responsible for other people’s children, sometimes a heavy burden.
This isn’t the first time that Calipari has made comments like this. Following his first season in Lexington, his team had five players taken in the first round of the NBA Draft. Later on that night Calipari called it the “best day in Kentucky basketball history.” His team that featured five first rounders was the perennial favorite for a national championship, but got upset in the Elite 8, by West Virginia.
Who am I to tell Kentucky fans how to react to this? However, one thing that is evident here is that there is a huge difference in the way Rick Pitino and John Calipari run their programs. Both have proven that their methods can be successful. We’ll see which one is more successful in 2014.