Calipari says he's not a 'lifer' and he'll retire 'sooner than everyone thinks.'

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 17, 2009 

For the fans, Kentucky basketball is eternal. For new coach John Calipari, not so much.

In an interview Thursday, Calipari said his wife, Ellen, has urged him to think about life away from recruiting and coaching.

"I want to be with you," Calipari said his wife told him. "Your son wants to be with you. You understand that? Stop coaching. We have enough money."

Calipari, 50, listened.

"I will," he said of retiring from coaching, "Sooner than everyone thinks. I'm not a, quote, lifer. I'm not going to be coaching till I'm 70. If I'm coaching in my 60s, something happened.

"The market crashed, or I need one more year, or I did something stupid with my money, so I better stay one or two more years to make sure."

Calipari began his head coaching career at Massachusetts in the 1988-89 season. He's one of 12 coaches to guide two different schools to the Final Four: UMass in 1996 and Memphis in 2008. Only Rick Pitino ( Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) has taken three different schools to the Final Four.

If Calipari will do the same, he'll have to do it within the next 10 years to meet his self-imposed deadline.

NBA superstar LeBron James learned about that deadline when he said he wanted his sons to play for Calipari.

"I asked him, 'How old are your sons?' " Calipari said.

LeBron James Jr. will be 5 in October. Bryce Maximus James will be 2 in June.

"I said, 'He better be a one-and-done,' " Calipari joked about LeBron Jr. "That put me right on the number, and I added it up in my head."

Showing his flexibility, Calipari sent scholarship papers for LeBron Jr. and Bryce Maximus when they were born.

That led James to ask if the papers' viability transferred to Kentucky after Calipari moved to UK.

"Absolutely, they do," Calipari told James. "But I'll send you new ones just in case."

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