John Calipari Holds Court Today at Fantasy Camp


Coach John Calipari spoke to the media today at his Fantasy Camp and covered a ton of topics as usual.

Makes me think we are getting closer to basketball.

Opening statement …
“Well I say stuff like this, “Only at Kentucky” and obviously there are other places that do these kinds of
experiences for the so called “players”. These guys ball now. They’re not here for funsies. They’ll compete.
There is a circuit of them. There are 20 of these guys that go to all of them. Let me thank some of the
sponsors. You have Walt Lunsford of Raymond James who is helping the Starky Foundation which is giving
money back to the city. The interesting thing is, from this and the alumni game, we are giving away over
$300,000. This is a neat thing. They are going to have a ball. For us, in this state, it is great to bring back
the former players and tie it all in together is really a great thing.”

On why it is important to bring back former players and include them …

“It’s the right thing to do. When you are sitting in the seat I am in, you are the keeper of tradition. Being part
of that means you reach out like I do with Coach (Joe B.) Hall, like I do with Herky Rupp and their family.
You reach back and you bring people back in and make them understand and let them know that this is
about them. This is their program. The ’96 guys have been fabulous by the way. It’s been unbelievable.
They are appreciative to be here. They already told me to tell everybody to get to this game because we are
not losing. We will not lose a quarter. Some of them want to play with the current players that are in the
NBA which we said fine. So it should be neat.”

On the comparison between the 1996 and 2012 championship teams …

“Well that team wouldn’t have been together because they would have all left early, if it was now. If it was
back then, I will tell you that they had guys that didn’t even play. They wanted Nazr Mohammad to play with
them instead of with the current NBA guys. I said no, you wouldn’t let him play when he was on your team.
He didn’t even play and he is still in the NBA. So that’s how good that team was. They also sacrificed for
each other where guys were playing 23, 24 minutes a game, which in this day in age is a little harder to do.
But my hat is off to them. They played and they played well. Both teams were good in different ways. You
could say that those are maybe two of the better teams in the last 25 years.”

On what kind of memories were brought up after seeing the 1996 team …

“I just was appreciative of them being there. They had a dinner and everything. When they were at dinner
and laughing and telling their stories, it didn’t include me. I wasn’t the guy that they were joking about. It was
about another guy. I said I’m leaving the room because they will say I said it. It was all in good fun though.
They just appreciate what this meant and how people treated them at the time. They want to be back here.”

On why he asks for the Big Blue Nation to come out to this charity event …

“We will have great numbers there. You would like to have 25,000 there, but we aren’t going to. It’s a
summer event during football season. You are bringing people back. It’s not a free thing but the money is
going towards charity. However, many people decide to come, they are going to have a ball. They are going
to say that I am so happy. It’s not going to be televised, so anybody waiting for television, it won’t be
streamed because the NBA won’t allow it. It’s either you are in the building or you’re not. We are going to do
some special things as we raise banners. We have won eight national titles and a lot of those guys are
going to be back. I’m really hoping we can get Wah Wah Jones back. We want to honor all of those guys.
You got Mike Pratt and that crew coming back. They are not playing but they are coming back. Sam
(Bowie) and all of the guys and Coach Hall will be there so it should be a great celebration of the history of
the program.”

On how much he has shown off his ring…

“Well if I had it on today I would have hit some microphones and stuff with it. I learned it20 years ago and I
said I ever win a national title, I am doing that somewhere. It was a coach of the Washington Redskins who
was in Buffalo, who had never won a championship. They kind of booed him when he was introduced and
he smacked a microphone. He said, ‘Doggone championship ring.’ The place went crazy. I said if I ever
have a chance to do that, I am doing it. It was literally 20 years ago, maybe 25.”

On the talent level of the camp …

“I’m going to be honest with you, we have better players than you think. And if you go out there, they’re
smart. The guys that had to do the circuit; if they want to be drafted by somebody, they will act like he can’t
play because the guy they want to get drafted by knows they can play. Some guys won’t even try out, they’ll
have bad ankles hurting me because they are looking at the guy they want. You pick me, you know me. I
mean his is like ‘uh… and they’re competitive now.’ Doc Rivers coached one team at the Jordan camp, I
was coaching the other team, and we made a 3 at the buzzer to tie the ball game up, and the official waves
it off and goes and points to the line and it’s at the buzzer. We went from tying the game at over time to
losing and his team ended up winning the championship out there and we were done right there and we
went crazy. I still remember it. We are chasing the official, the whole team and coaches. The guy is running
out of the building.”

On Michael Kidd-Gilchrist saying UK will repeat this year as National Champions …

“Yea, the women’s team is going to do fine. We will be alright. We aren’t where we were, we have great
kids. I’m really excited about the kind of people we have on this team. They understand, we are not as
physical as we were. Obviously we weren’t very experienced last year, but we had more than we have this
year. We had three guys who had been in the Final Four. But, like I said a couple years ago, if I had my
choice of teams, I’m taking this team. I don’t see anybody out there that scares me. Like a couple years
ago, if we had beaten Connecticut, we probably would have won the National Title two years ago.”

On why he would take this team over any other team …

“No I’m talking about, two years ago I looked around the country and I’m saying, ‘I’m not afraid of any team
out there.’ My team is losing games, but we are fine we are going to be good. No one scares me and I can
tell you right now without the ball going up, we can go 0-2 to start the year. We have got a veteran
Maryland team and a veteran Duke team we have to play right out of the gate with no other games. We can
be 0-2 and have everybody in the state in full blown panic and they’re looking at me and I’m saying we’re
fine. At the end of the year, our team will be fine. We’ve got size, we’ve got speed, we’ve got some
athleticism, they’re just really inexperienced.”

On Indiana and Louisville entering the season …

“I said those were two of the better teams but, I haven’t seen all the other teams. Duke is going to be one
of those teams. The have everybody back. They have more unity than they’ve had in the past. You have a
team like a Syracuse, whose still going to be really good. Whereas, Ohio State, how much are they going
to dip? Penn State is going to be really good. You got some teams in the Big 10 that are going to be really
good, so it should be interesting.”

On his thoughts to the ACC obtaining Notre Dame …

“I’ll tell it’s starting to lean toward what I said for two years. They are going to four ‘super conferences’ and
it’s going to be divided up. (You will have) your football playoff, and all those teams playoff(s), and your own
governing body and all that stuff. I said it two years ago. I’ve been wrong before. What year? (19)78?”

On the retirement of UConn head coach Jim Calhoun …

“I would tell you that what he has done on the court will be documented and all the other things, people
analyze all that. My thing is, I was there when he went on that campus. What I think when you judge
coaches is, ‘what do they add to where they are?’ What happens to the campus where he coaches. Are
they using the vehicle to help that campus? That campus was not a nice campus two years ago. One of the
worst in New England. Now, it may be the nicest campus in New England and there are some really good
schools. You talk about transforming a school and athletic department. Now I’m not saying he did it all
himself. It’s like what happened in (Boston College) when that touchdown was thrown by (Doug) Flutie, and
all of a sudden everything changes in B.C. It wasn’t just Flutie but it was the entire thing of bringing people
together. Well, he has been able to do that. That campus, that community and I think as he walks away, for me, that’s when a guy has really had an effect. Some guys will judge the coaching, the games and how
it finished, how it started. There are all kinds of opinions. I’m just looking at what he has done on that
campus and what he has done for the school and their state. In my mind, that tells you what he is.”

On the money being donated on Saturday …

“Well there is going to be more than four (charities). I wish I could give $300,000 to each charity. In total,
as we speak right now, it’s that. Let’s hope its $400,000. More people that buy the tickets, the money is
coming in and going right out. I’m doing it this way because I want the players to give away the checks, to
let them understand, you’re coming back and yeah we are all together and his is about our family and all of
that. But, by coming together, we can have an impact on all these different organizations. It’s probably
going to be more than four, it may be five or six, but until we get exactly what we have to give away, then
probably there will be more giving away based on the fact there will still be some left now.”