An open letter to Coach John Calipari

Dear Coach John Calipari,DSC_1224

I know you don’t need another guy in the media (or loser blogger) telling you what to do. You’re tired of it I’m sure, or have developed the ability to not give a bleeping Saul Smith about what others think of you. Probably a bit of both.
You’ve done everything reasonable Kentucky fans (I’m one of the 15 percent) could have hoped for since your hire and so much more.

There’s nothing more for you to prove at Kentucky.

Please, go to the NBA.

It’s not just the best choice for yourself; it’s the best choice for Kentucky fans. Other friends I have in Big Blue Nation were not enjoying Kentucky games this year. Despite all the winning, any tight contest for the Cats turned into agony for the Commonwealth. Making it worse, all the winning made 49 states angry at our Cats and our fans.

Losing to Wisconsin was disappointing. Perhaps even worth shedding a tear or starting small fires. Wish I was joking about that last part. The Wisconsin loss though provided Kentucky faithful something else.

Relief.

Relief that we no longer have to sit through a game as if all the furniture in our homes are made of eggshells. Relief that fans will no longer have to defend their favorite team to other fan bases who just want to see them fail. Relief that we no longer have to listen to commentators make a big deal about Kentucky struggling during the course of a game as if it were a supernatural miracle. Relief that we no longer have to hear talking heads rant about how “insert school name here” can beat the Cats. Relief from those saying “the SEC is weak” when winning on the road in any league is challenging.

Kentucky was the only team networks promoted because they knew it was the only team they knew would drum up interest. Kentucky or the field was a serious question because no one cared who the field was. Sure, there were candidates but the “who” never mattered. It was only the “when,” and the “if.”

Coach Cal, your team wasn’t a part of the college basketball season. Your team WAS the college basketball season.
It’s hard to think back to when that wasn’t the case. So I looked back at your introductory press conference you had in 2009. It was six years ago but you look over a decade younger then.

Everything you hoped to do back then you completed.

You got talent to come to Lexington.
You achieved No. 1 rankings and 1 seeds.
You took Kentucky to multiple Final Fours.
You added to the championship banners.
And of course, you proved everyone wrong. This includes skeptics like myself.

Skeptics that thought all of the tournament banners you won at Kentucky would eventually be vacated.
Skeptics that thought you would fail to coach toe-to-toe with the best in clutch situations.
Skeptics that thought you could not win a championship with the bulk of the roster being freshmen.
Skeptics that thought you could not develop players in a year.
Skeptics that thought you would fall on your face.

You proved them wrong but now there’s nothing left to do here.

This entire season was your team fighting to hang on to a title it hadn’t won yet. Everyone knew you had the best team but the best team doesn’t always win the tournament. You knew that too well with how your squad as an eight seed nearly won it all a year ago.

Losing is part of basketball, it’s part of sports. Your team though didn’t react too well to it Saturday. Players walked off the court without shaking hands and one was caught on the microphone whispering obscenities in the postgame presser.

The fact is Coach, even if Kentucky had survived Wisconsin Saturday night, most of the country would have been yelling for Duke Monday night. People would rather see Duke win if it meant our team lost. I never thought that would be possible.

Kentucky is now the black hat. It will be as long as other fan bases have Coach Cal to target. You really want another six years of that?DSC_1253

I don’t think you do. At the open practice Friday you had your team walk off the court waving to fans with 15 minutes left in the hour long session. It was bold, to say you didn’t need the 15 minutes of court time. Jim Nantz was waiting to interview you after the practice like he did with the other three Final Four coaches and I can tell he was not happy you left without saying a word. Then again, I’m assuming you don’t care and probably needed a break from the media. I’m betting you are over this crap.

You’re over with the media analyzing everything you do and with presenting yourself as an image to appeal to the media and the fans. Let’s face it, your interviews sound more like campaign ads than basketball sound bites. How long can you do that before it takes a toll?

In the NBA you’ll still have media obligations but you will not have to worry about representing an entire state. You can be yourself. Plus, people won’t accuse you of paying players. Everyone of them is supposed to be paid.

You’ve done everything you can at Kentucky, now you need to move on.

Just make sure you give us a chance to say goodbye and most importantly…

Say thank you.

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