This is not to take anything away from his cultivating tons of Twitter followers, or bonding with the faithful, or beefing up the boosters, or hatching the compassionate Hoops for Haiti, or returning record numbers into Rupp Arena.
But John Calipari's superlative stroke of genius was the icon sitting across from the Kentucky bench during the 85-72 win over Vanderbilt.
You know, the fellow biting his nails.
Getting Ashley Judd back on the Big Blue Bandwagon is one thing. Coaxing LeBron James, "King James" himself, into taking time out of his busy schedule to jet down to Lexington and watch the Cats crush the Commodores is a different coup entirely.
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After all, Kentucky's seven national titles are impressive. Its claim to title of college basketball's winningest program is first-rate. Its passionate-to-the-point-of-overly-enthusiastic fan base — "Fans in Kentucky are the most passionate in the country — Can u believe they will have 20 thousand @ Gameday when the Cats play the Vols," tweeted Dick Vitale on Sunday morning — is a bona fide plus.
Yet that's not why John Wall, the best 2009 high school basketball prospect in the nation, made his way to Lexington. It's not why DeMarcus Cousins, who (if he keeps his cool) might be playing his way into a high NBA lottery pick, reneged on his promise to wear Memphis blue and chose Kentucky blue instead. It's not why Eric Bledsoe or Darnell Dodson or even Daniel Orton decided UK2K was the place to be.
Those players, like the vast majority of the players playing college basketball, want to go to the NBA.
Those players, like many before them, i.e. Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, Chris Douglas-Roberts, believe Calipari can get them there.
And it sure doesn't hurt to look across the court and see, in the flesh, the face of the NBA.
"Coach Cal knows millions of people everywhere," Patrick Patterson said. "For LeBron James to take time out of his busy schedule, when we know he has games, preparation, practice and other obligations, too, for him to take time out of his schedule to come down here and support us and just show his face and be here with his friends for the game, that means a tremendous amount of great pride for us."
It also sends a national message that Kentucky is the place to be if you want to rub elbows with the NBA.
After all, think that video of James doing the "Y" in the traditional K-e-n-t-u-c-k-y cheer won't be seen a few times across the Web on YouTube, never mind SportsCenter?
Plus, don't forget the shoes. Most of the Cats were sporting LeBron's newly designed kicks during the game.
"I was worried about him coming because it's another distraction. So I was hoping, the snow, maybe he wouldn't come," Calipari said after the game, though you had the feeling he was stretching the truth a bit. "But you know what, (the team) responded."
Cal responded by taking his guest to dinner at Malone's in Hamburg on Saturday night before James jetted back to Cleveland.
"It would have been better if he was an alum who played here and he came back to watch a game," Calipari said. "We probably would have four more national titles up there."
Who knows, just having LeBron connected to the program might lead to four more.