By LARRY VAUGHT
When ESPN showed Malik Monk laughing on the Kentucky bench at the end of the “tail-kicking” the Cats got at Florida Saturday night, it infuriated many Kentucky fans.
Some had no problem with what he did, especially when they found out the Florida student sections was signing “Happy Birthday” to him at the time. But it still sent a message that maybe there was a problem with UK’s approach to winning.
Kentucky coach John Calipari addressed the issue Monday on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference in a way that I liked and think was appropriate.
“When I heard it I got on him. And what they had done is they were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him because it was his birthday and that’s why he was – he caught it. But, I said to him, ‘Do you understand you’re at Kentucky? The camera is always on. The mic is always on,'” Calipari said.
Monk should have known that. Then again, he’s a freshman and most of us wish we had some do-overs at that age.
“It’s a lesson for him. I mean, two seconds before, Joel (Justus), my assistant, was sitting next to him and Isaiah (Briscoe) and they were going nuts about how bad they played. ‘I can’t believe this, you and I are better than this. What in the heck? How did we let this?’” Calipari said.
“And then they started singing, which I looked at Joel, I said, ‘Joel.’ He said, ‘Coach, I didn’t see any of it and I was sitting there.’ So, he learned a lesson.”
Monk said Monday that as soon it happened, he knew social media probably would explode.
‘Cameras are always on me, Cal said that – he told me before I got here that cameras would be on me. I just gotta watch what I’m doing,” the UK freshman said. “It caught me off guard. (when the students sang). That’s really the main reason I laughed because it caught me off guard. It was a funny, clever thing that the fans did.”
Monk said Calipari met with him immediately after the game. But he said no one should question his desire to win.
‘We played bad. Winning is on my mind from the jump. So, if anybody took that wrong I’m sorry for that, but that was clever from them to do that. It was funny to me, but I shouldn’t laugh at that moment because I knew cameras were on me,” he said.