John Clay: Slowing down just isn't in Calipari's nature

jclay@herald-leader.comJune 5, 2012 

John Clay

Before summer is through, John Calipari will have solved the economic crisis, saved Facebook and straightened out the Kardashians.

Just kidding.

It's just that after winning his first national championship you would think Kentucky's basketball coach would slow down.

Uh, no.

"I'll slow down when I'm retired," he said Tuesday.

He said this on the occasion of a media opportunity at Memorial Coliseum to announce the John Calipari Fantasy Experience, a pricey fantasy camp for the rabid middle-aged fan who wishes to see what it would be like to be a Kentucky basketball player.

But, like those athletes and coaches who go on ESPN radio to plug their foundation or charity, the coach also had to talk about some things that are of interest to the general public.

Calipari looked tanned and fit, and seemed, well, tip-top Calipari.

Once the promotion portion was done and the floor was opened for questions, Cal talked NBA Draft, Darius Miller, Terrence Jones, the Dominican Republic National Team, 16-year-old Karl Towns (trying out for the Dominican team), the end of the UK-IU series, scheduling and the Wisconsin recall election. OK, so he didn't talk about the last one. No politics.

"I've always had three things going on at once," he explained.

It's the way the guy is wired. His mind is whirring at warp speed. Some pride themselves on being an idea man. Calipari is an ideas man.

"I've got some that would make some people in this room angry," he said with sort of a devilish grin, which could mean that we media types might find ourselves sitting on the last row of Rupp Arena next season. Not sure what we've done to deserve that, but, moving on.

Moving on is what he wants us, and Indiana Coach Tom Crean, to do in regard to the messy breakup of Cats-Hoosiers. That isn't to say Cal ducked the question there. Cal doesn't duck. He doesn't back down, either.

You might disagree with him — and I do — but almost never does the coach say he's not going to talk about something or not give his reasoning or deflect the query with "next question."

He's not Bill Belichick or John Tortorella.

And we opposed to the UK-IU interruption never said Calipari's argument lacked merit.

Kentucky will play a difficult schedule next season. He is the coach. He knows his team. He gets to schedule for his team, as he said Tuesday. Both sides have said their piece. We've said our piece. Let's move on.

The moving part is what continually strikes you about this guy. He never stops. He's coaching the Dominicans. He's preparing his players for the draft. He's planning this fantasy camp. He's being interviewed by CBS Sports. He's having dinner with Joe B. Hall. He's tweeting like a mad man. He's writing letters to his players.

He's a walking, talking, breathing can of Red Bull.

"I was like this at UMass," he said Tuesday.

We know that. We've always known that. It's just something else to see it close-up, stretched out over three years now.

And perhaps we were foolish to think that having national title hardware in the trophy case might coax the coach into sitting back and enjoying a little R&R.

So why do all this stuff?

"To separate ourselves from the pack," he said.

Usually, a program separates itself from the pack when it wins the national championship. But it's never enough for John Calipari. It never has been. It never will be.

He's sort of like that shark that has to keep swimming. He can't take the lack of action.

Nothing wrong with that.

Think how boring it might be around here without him.

John Clay: 859-231-3226. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv.

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