Vaught’s note: Kentucky fan Kelly Harper was among those at coach John Calipari’s book signing in northern Kentucky and shared these insights on what the night was like. Enjoy.
By KELLY HARPER
Who could bring over 500 people to a book signing in Northern Kentucky on a Monday night? Only Coach John Calipari. The Big Blue Nation was abuzz at Joseph Beth Booksellers waiting for the arrival of Coach Cal for a book signing of his new book Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out.
Northern Kentucky showed Cal that its just as crazy about the Cats as other parts of the Commonwealth. Fans from all ages packed the bookstore and caused traffic jams outside for the chance to hear our coach speak about the program, the players and his new book. Even his delay from a recruiting trip to Chicago didn’t dampen the mood.
As Coach Cal entered, he was greeted by a local high school band’s rendition of the UK Fight Song, he greets toe crowd with his immortal phase “You people are crazy.” Northern Kentucky fans couldn’t have been happier in the acknowledgement or our love and devotion to a university over an hour away.
Coach Calipari spent about 10 to 15 minutes talking and answering questions from the audience. He overviewed the foundation of his new book focusing on servant leadership. He talked about working with talented “young stars” that you are trying to focus on others rather than themselves. One of the best stories of the night was that of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s unselfish attitude before the Vandy game in 2012 asking Coach Cal to put in Darius Miller over himself. He saw Darius struggling and thought giving him the chance could help him overcome. Cal then went on to say, “Would you tell your boss to let you step back and put someone else in your place because that person was struggling?”
Coach Cal also addressed the recent years and the paradigm shift that the Big Blue Nation has had to face with the “One and done” era. He reminded us that his words from the beginning focused on players; “I coach for the names on the backs of the jerseys — not just the front.”
His role is for Kentucky’s program to have an impact on families helping many out of generational poverty. In the end, these players will have an impact on the overall program. In 50 years, the University of Kentucky will still be here and many won’t remember the decision that these students made for not only themselves but also their futures. Kentucky’s program is creating more millionaires than many Wall Street firms.
A few notes closer to home and on the minds of the BBN focused on questions from the audience.
— Cal feels the class of 2014 is complete.
— His son Brad is doing well from his injury and has about three more months of recovery. Father and son were on the court practicing last night.
— Cal will have hip replacement surgery on May 2.
—He met on Monday with Dakari and Alex and will meet Tuesday with the Twins. He didn’t share anything on those discussions. But if I had to guess, Cal told them “do what’s right for your family.”
— In the end the best question of the night came from a little boy in the audience. He asked Cal the question we all want to know “Do you like pasta?” Cal answered, “Can’t you tell.”