Calipari: NBA to Louisville would be 'wonderful thing'

Pitino not thrilled with idea

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 18, 2010 

The University of Kentucky-University of Louisville basketball divide extends to the idea of an NBA team moving to Kentucky's largest city.

On Friday, UK Coach John Calipari called the idea of an NBA team moving to Louisville a "wonderful thing." A week earlier, U of L Coach Rick Pitino called that same idea "wacky."

In response to a reporter's question, Calipari whole-heartedly endorsed the idea of a NBA team moving to Louisville. He cited his experience with the Grizzlies moving to Memphis while he coached the University of Memphis team.

"We sold more tickets and raised more dollars" than before the Grizzlies moved to town, he said. The presence of Grizzlies made Memphis fans and boosters feel obliged to show even stronger support for the school, Calipari said.

Calipari suggested the idea of an NBA team moving to Louisville as a win-win-win-win for U of L, UK, the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky.

"I don't think there's any down side," he said.

A pro team would help U of L: "Recruiting for Louisville will go up because pro scouts will be in the gym every day," he said. "That's what happened to us in Memphis."

Good for the state of Kentucky: "This state is driven by the city of Louisville. Anything good for the city of Louisville is good for our state," he said.

Good for UK as a means to lessen media coverage: "So I don't have a pre-game (news conference) with 90 of you," he told reporters. "It's not healthy, this!"

Calipari scoffed at the notion of a pro team diminishing UK basketball.

"It will never take away from the University of Kentucky," he said. "Ever. Never."A week earlier, Pitino said he did not oppose the idea of a NBA team moving to Louisville. But he said NBA prices were too high for a city like Louisville.

"If you lived in New York City, four tickets will run you about $500," he said. "Louisville can't afford that. ... There are very few (people) in this town with that type of money.

"Most important, the NBA's not coming to Louisville because (NBA commissioner) David Stern doesn't want it to be in Louisville."

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