By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari claims he’s innocent and was not taking any potshots at Duke with his recent manifesto on his blog about recruiting. Almost everyone else was sure Calipari’s remarks were aimed at Duke — including the Duke coaching staff and media members in North Carolina — but Calipari said Wednesday that media members again misinterpreted his words and he didn’t care.
“But the reality of it is, that post was more in a general sense. It wasn’t geared to one person or one program. It was in a general sense. And I’ll give you the example. So I go in a house, and I start talking about the academics and what we’re doing here,” Calipari said. “And again, let me just say this, we just had another semester where our team went a 3.0 (grade-point average). Now, you won’t write that and that won’t go out because that doesn’t fit the narrative. But it was another semester of a 3.0.
“So I walk in and we’re talking academically of what we do and our kids and Alex and this and this and we talk about servant leadership. We tell the story about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and what he did. We tell about Anthony Davis and John Wall being two finalists for the (Community) Assist in the NBA, which is an award all those players want. It’s community involvement. Two of our players are finalists. We’ve raised all this money, we get involved in the community, we do this, it’s about servant leadership. It’s about preparing you.
“And the mother looks at me and says, ‘All you talk about is the NBA.’ Excuse me? I just walked in. I looked at the kid and I say, ‘You want to start? I can’t promise you that. If you’re going to start, you’ll start. I’m not promising you shots, minutes. You come here, you earn it. We don’t give fish; we give fishing rods. You come here (etc.).’”
Calipari pointed out that former UK walk-on Twany Beckham had just been hired by Gov. Matt Bevin. He says UK’s draft picks could give him a loan if needed with the money they make.
Calipari said he has to educate others about what UK basketball does for its players.
“Someone on the outside that lives in another state (might not). So it gave me a chance to say, ‘This is who we are. This is not for everybody.’ It isn’t. And it gave me that chance,” Calipari said Wednesday.
Then came a final zinger from Calipari.
“Now you guys (in the media) ran with it and did what you did, but it was broader (statement). Normally I say when you throw a rock at a pack of dogs, the one you hit starts yelping. That hit, it should have hit about 15 heads, OK? Not just one,” Calipari said.