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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: The Greatest John Calipari Story Ever Written

Probably many of you have seen this by now, but Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price has just published a story about John Calipari that is more enlightening and more comprehensive than any story written to date.  This is along tale, the better part of an hour in the telling, so don't go into it short on time and read every word.

I am not going to quote extensively from this article, or debate the points it raises.  This is a piece that simply needs to stand on its own, be read, digested, and integrated into your understanding of the college game and how Coach Calipari fits into it.

We all know that we are imperfect, Coach Cal no less than the rest of us.  The same is true of some of the other major players in this dramatic essay, which are many, and famous.

There are a couple of things I want to highlight that were particularly interesting.  First off, one of the more nasty rumors about John Calipari was that he allegedly once, early in his career, tried to put a recruit off St. Johns by claiming that Lou Carnesecca, then the coach of St. Johns, had terminal cancer.  This vicious rumor was the genesis of much of the coaching fraternity's antipathy toward Calipari.  All involved in the matter in a position to know denied it, and Carnesecca himself says he doesn't believe it.  But this part really got my attention:

Evans, the Pitt coach, remembers that it was Pitino—not Carnesecca—who brought up the rumor about Calipari and the cancer allegation at the coaches' meeting in '86. And Nathan, the Minutemen's booster, and others have told Calipari for years that Pitino's story of helping him get the UMass job and contributing to his salary is a myth.

Another interesting passage has to do with the infamous William Wesley, AKA "Worldwide Wes:"

"[Wesley]'s become the bogeyman," Calipari says. The two men met in the mid-1980s, when Calipari unsuccessfully recruited Camden (N.J.) High's scoring juggernaut, Kevin Walls, for Kansas. Wesley and his good friend Leon Rose (now the agent for James at CAA, which also represents Calipari) had grown up playing against Louisville's famed Camden Connection—Walls, Milt Wagner and Billy Thompson—and Wesley, working at a Cherry Hill, N.J., store, Pro's Shoe, had become close with the trio. Wesley grew disgusted that Wagner, Thompson and, especially, Walls were chewed up and spit out at Louisville; none of the Camden Three has earned a degree from the school, and Walls, a 44.8-point-a-game scorer in high school, quit the team midway through his sophomore year after a falling-out with then head coach Denny Crum. "The kid should've gone to Kansas," Wesley says of Walls.

If you think these are bombshells or surprising, there are many, many more things in there.  I won't tell you how to think about this, or claim vindication or indictment for Coach Cal or anybody.  Instead, I ask you to read the whole thing, carefully, from front to back, and make your own judgment.

Then, come back here and talk about it.