"Just my turn in the barrel." That's what we used to say when one of my former bosses would get mad at one of us. He would give us the cold shoulder, cast disparaging glances at us and generally make our lives miserable.
So now, Kentucky fans, it's time to join Louisville fans in the barrel. Just a couple of days after rumors of Rick Pitino's interest in the New Jersey Nets coaching job, comes now rumors that the Nets might just offer ... Coach Cal!
Be still, my beating heart!
CBS' Gary Parrish makes the case for Calipari's possible charge back into the pro game and return of Kentucky to Head Coach Limbo:
Nobody would deny that the Kentucky job is better than the Memphis job, but I'm not sure the UK job is better than the Nets job, particularly if the Nets get the No. 1 pick and have a chance to lure James. What Calipari would be comparing is having to recruit 17-year-olds while opposing fans call him a cheater and columnists raise doubts about the legitimacy of any accomplishments, to perhaps coaching John Wall (possible No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft) and LeBron James (possible Net via free agency) in the New York market for an owner who has deep pockets and is determined to win.
Don't look at me -- maybe he's right. I have no idea what Calipari will do, probably because he has been here such a short time. But trust me -- it does not take a leap of logic to believe that Calipari might want to prove to the NBA that he can coach there, too. Who knows, he might particularly relish being rehired for big bucks by the team that fired him, an experience that was apparently the driving force behind his book, Bounce Back.
I know, I know -- different owners, different administration, different situation -- but the same fans, the same league, and there are bound to be other connections to what Coach Cal seems to suggest is one of the defining moments in his life. How sweet would it be to go back to the place that fired you and win an NBA championship? With LeBron and Wall, that scenario is very, very real if the pieces could be made to fit together.
Now, you know that Louisville, Memphis, Kansas and North Carolina fans, among many others, are just down on their knees with hands pressed together in fervent, heartfelt prayer that this scenario comes true. Not only would Kentucky suffer archetypal poetic justice for Calipari's departure from Memphis, but it would validate all their perceptions of Calipari as nothing more than a mercenary salesman who has all the ethical values of Hans Gruber from the movie, Die Hard.
In fact, the plethora of articles about this possibility indicate that this is just what many in the sports media were hoping for, and the Pitino story was little more than a prelude to the main event. Here are a few just for fun:
- More NBA Rumors for Coach Cal
- Calipari says he is committed to UK amid Nets rumors : The Kentucky Kernel
- Calipari now among Nets rumors | courier-journal.com | The Courier-Journal
- Calipari rumors recall Pitino era | KentuckySports.com
- Calipari now rumored to be interested in New Jersey Nets job | WHAS11 Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana News | Local News
Heh. Well, get used to it, Kentucky fans. No matter what is really going on in Coach Cal's mind, we are going to be living with this for however long Calipari is on the sidelines at UK. Most of us will calm our fears with rationale that includes, "He doesn't want to go back to that pressure-cooker," and, "The Nets were the team that fired him, for Gods sake!" and, "This stuff has been going on for years while he was at Memphis," and, "Coach Cal wouldn't do that to us! This is his dream job!"
Rest assured, Kentucky fans, you do not know what he will do, and neither do I. But unless Kentucky hires an alumni as head coach, one that is so in love with the program and the state that nothing could lure him away, these rumors will surface every single year ad infinitum.
Might as well get used to it, expect the best, and prepare for the worst. Because ... It. Could. Happen.