LA is a long way from Lexington. But that’s the direction University of Kentucky coach John Calipari heads, at least according to Rex Chapman.
Chapman’s tweet heard round the basketball-shaped basketball world called Calipari’s hiring as the next Los Angeles Lakers coach a “done deal.” But the former University of Kentucky standout’s tweet quickly elicited denials from KU’s athletic director and the Los Angeles Lakers, who, of course, already have a coach in Mike D’Antoni. Last month, Kobe Bryant reportedly announced that he would have “no interest” in playing for D’Antoni next season. Sports Illustrated reported last week that the Lakers lean toward keeping the journeyman coach. But at 25-52, one of the most storied franchises in the NBA appears just one game above the West-worst Utah Jazz in the standings.
Calipari issued his own sharp, non-denial denial to a question on the subject prior to last night’s game. “The Lakers have a basketball coach,” he observed. “Kentucky has a basketball coach. I’m not going to dignify that.” A freshman-heavy Wildcats lost the national championship game to UConn 60-54.
Calipari, who has enjoyed successful runs at UMass, Memphis, and Kentucky, has sparked victories and controversies everywhere he has coached in the college ranks. His lone head-coaching run in the NBA, a late-1990s stint with the New Jersey Nets, resulted in few controversies and fewer wins. Having failed in his previous go in the NBA, and having already proven himself in the collegiate coaching field by winning a national championship in 2012, Calipari may be eager to achieve what he hasn’t already achieved. And after publicly complaining last week about the one-and-done system that forces him into permanent recruiting mode because of the quick departure for the pros of prized recruits, Calipari leaving college basketball doesn’t strike neutral observers as far-fetched an idea as it ostensibly strikes KU and the Lakers.
“I don’t live in some dream world & have alwys called it straight,” Rex Chapman insists. “Alwys will. Let’s not 4get, 6-wks ago many in [Big Blue Nation] would’ve walked Cal 2 LA.”