By LARRY VAUGHT
It seems like John Calipari has been to the NBA Draft so many times that he would have a ton of great memories.
So what draft memories stand out to him going into tonight’s draft? That’s what he was asked Tuesday and the answer was long, humorous and insightful. Enjoy.
“What stands out is being so nervous that I want to throw up. Like, more nervous than I am to coach a game, more nervous than I am to be in the national championship game or Final Four games like we have over the years, or a big rivalry game where there’s something at stake. Because these families are going to get a chance to breathe for the first time in their lives, and you sit there and it’s hanging over you,” Calipari said. “Like last year, I was scared to death with Willie Cauley, because everybody said he was going to go in the 20s. Now, I knew who I was talking to and I knew that – but until someone says their name, you don’t know.
“I can remember sitting there with Brandon Knight before he was picked by Detroit, sick because they passed him at four, they passed him at five, they passed him at six. And all the sudden we’re looking at each other and I’m nauseous. And he goes seven and I literally bang my knees underneath the table coming out.
“I can remember Michael Kidd going No. 2 with Anthony (Davis), which again has never been done in any other sports league, one and two (from the same team) – knowing that he took the fifth-most shots on our team. He sacrificed everything for the team to win and he was rewarded more than anyone, which is how you hope this works out.
“I can remember sitting there – well, I left the arena and all the sudden here goes Eric Bledsoe at 18, and I’m like, ‘What?’ And then I’m sitting in the hotel room and Daniel Orton goes 29 or 30, wherever he went, and I’m like, ‘We just had five guys in the first round,’ which has never happened before or since. I remember that, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what just happened?’
“So you’re dealing with people’s children, you’re dealing with lives changing for the better, and you play a small part of it and you get to live it with them? You become like them. You become as sick and nervous as they are until it’s over and you can breathe.
“Now, I’ll say this: The minute my last guy gets picked, like I’m in the (green room) and right now it appears that Skal and Jamal will be there – when those two are done, I leave. I’m not worried about anybody else. I hope they all get picked; I couldn’t care less about where they go, what team takes what. I’m not there for that. Somebody may say, ‘Why do you go? You’re there to be seen.’ No, it’s their graduation night. I’m not going to go to graduation? I’m not going to go to graduation? Now, you can make an excuse what you want, but I’m going to my sons’ graduation, and I’m going to enjoy it with them and their family, and then I’m leaving and let them enjoy their night together.
“I don’t go out after with them. Let them be together. But I just want to be there and really experience and be there for them and let them know: It’s a pain in the butt getting to Brooklyn and flying in there and staying, but let me tell you something, I’m here for you.”