John Calipari is a college basketball coach through and through. His career at UMASS, Memphis and Kentucky has shown he knows how to recruit, coach and win with college players. He has taken three different teams to the Final Four, played in the title game twice and won a championship. He has achieved everything that is possible in college basketball, but he should not go back to the NBA. This article explains why the NBA is not the right place for Calipari.
#1: He Has Failed In The NBA Before
Calipari took the Nets job after leaving UMASS in the late 90s. He was assured of success because he was young and energetic. He went to a Nets team with young talent, but he was unable to do anything with the team. Professional players do not act like college players in the least, and he was done in three seasons. The same Nets team he failed with went to the NBA Finals twice under Byron Scott with Jason Kidd at point guard. Calipari failed because he does not know how to maximize pro talent.
#2: He Is A Brilliant College Coach
Calipari knows how to coach young players who need to develop in a system. His teams play a half-court offense that trains players to be patient, and his teams play hard defense. Anyone who does not play defense on a Calipari team stands out, and he has trained many great players in his time in the NCAA. Trips to the Final Four with UMASS, Memphis and Kentucky offer evidence that his college coaching is superior to his professional coaching.
#3: His Ego Does Not Need Feeding
John’s ego was once fed by his need to go to the NBA and succeed. He has since won a championship at Kentucky, been to the Final Four multiple times and his family has grown up. He is an older man who does not need the NBA to validate his career, and the lack of ego boost is more than enough reason to stay at Kentucky until he retires. All indications are that he does not want to leave Kentucky, but reports will surface every year as coaches are fired.
#4: Other Coaches Do Better In The NBA
Bradley Stevens left Butler to take the Celtics job, and Boston is playing well. He has adapted to the NBA in a way that Calipari never could. John is a smart man who understands that he is simply not built to coach an NBA team. He may believe he has the tools in him somewhere, but he is wise enough to see that it is not in the cards.
#5: Other Pro Coaching Failures
Rick Pitino is the most closely-associated coach with Calipari. The two came up in the same era, coached at similar schools and now coach rivals in Kentucky and Louisville. Pitino went to the NBA with hopes of winning, but he was flamed out just as fast as Calipari. He has taken three teams to the Final Four, won titles at two different schools and it arguably a better coach. Calipari must see that the NBA is not for certain men.
John Calipari may be reported as in contention for several NBA jobs, but he is not leaving Kentucky. He is in a place in his life where he does not need the stress or the challenge. He is one of the best, and he does not need to go to the NBA to prove that. Staying at Kentucky while piling on accolades is a far safer route for him as a coach.