LEXINGTON, KY (WAVE) - John Calipari is 190-38 in six seasons as the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. He has led the Cats to four Final Fours and the 2012 National Championship. In September Calipari was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
"Rick Barry was there and I remember watching Rick Barry, the greatest thing was being around Cliff (Hagan), being around Dan (Issel) and Louie (Dampier) and I, we were able to take pictures together, you think of that. I called and talked to Herky Rupp after, and I said to Herky, your dad did all this. All of the Hall of Famers from here were tied to Adolph Rupp, everyone of them except me, and I said, I'm hoping you're okay, and he said, you are a part of our family, which made me feel like a million bucks," Calipari said.
He is wearing one ring, on his right hand, his Hall of Fame ring.
"I'll probably wear this a little more and it was funny because will say, can I see the ring? I said, on my finger you can see the ring."
With all of his accomplishments in his first six seasons in Lexington in the white hot spotlight that is Kentucky basketball, what is left?
"What drives me is how many players can we continue to help and by focusing on them they focus on each other and winning," Calipari said. "Cal doesn't care about championships, he just wants to put players in the NBA, well if you're a parent of one of those kids, you're really happy that thats what it is, but it isn't. We win more games than anybody. We've been to more Final Four's than anybody and I'll say it here, we should have won three national titles, we won one though."
He takes offense to the critics who claim all he cares about is moving players from college to the NBA. "So, I do care about winning and I do want to win, but not at the expense of young people. This is my, my life is good, I'm fine, but they are starting their life, so that's my job. My goal before I retire and again, I said I'd do this until 60, for like five more years, but I'll go longer than that now, because everyone else is coaching in their 70's, so maybe I'll coach in my 70's, I didn't think I would, but maybe I will now, but before I'm done I want half, 12, half of the All-Star game to have played for me, right now it's four and they're all young. Derrick Rose, DeMarcus (Cousins), John Wall, Anthony Davis, and I think those four will continue to be in there for awhile. Who are the other eight? Now let me ask you, if that happens. I go to an All-Star game, half of the players played for me, every basket is one of my guys, just it's crazy, but that's my goal, and if that happens, how many games are we gonna win, how many championships do you have a chance to win?"
Last season his team won every game, but one. After starting 38-0, the Cats fell 71-64 to Wisconsin in the Final Four.
"Whatever I say people will say, he meant it towards this, or he meant it toward this, he's trying to wing this guy, he's trying wing that guy, I'm not, I'm just telling you, 38-0 to start a year, in our lifetime ain't happening again, now I'd like to say, unless maybe it happens here," Calipari said, quick to add, "but I doubt it will ever happen again, 38-0, with that schedule, with every game someone's Super Bowl. Every game we played, I can't remember a team playing bad, now we have played real well and banged somebody, but the reality of it is, every team played well against us and we got to that. It did add up, but I have been on three or four, five different teams that had 27-0 to start a year, 22, I had been there, so I could deal with it myself better and thought I was dealing with it with them, but I think it piled up, and I think if we had lost a game, it probably would have helped us.
He contends that even with that one loss, his 2014-15 team will be the one college basketball fans remember from last season.
"But 38-0, 50 years from now people are going to say that team went 38-0."