As Kentucky Wildcats fans we all know the stories about Marcus Camby, particularly the Big One. The Big One is the one where Camby famously took thousands of dollars from sports agents, ultimately forcing UMass to vacate the 1996 Final Four run they made under coach John Calipari. Even though UMass received no punishment or probation, and the NCAA exonerated Calipari of wrongdoing, the incident haunts both men to this day.
It's still fashionable to blame Calipari as the man in charge, but Camby knows who was to blame, proof of which can be found in the fact that he reimbursed UMass the $150-200,000 his rule-breaking cost the school (the exact figure seems to be in dispute) when the NCAA vacated their Final Four. That cash came out of his pocket.
Whither Marcus Camby now? He plays with the Portland Trail Blazers, and this story in The Columbian lends a fascinating insight into how Camby has grown up. He encourages players who have been sent down to the D-league, helps other players succeed, and stays in touch with Coach Cal, with whom his relationship is still really good:
Calipari called Camby "one of the best teammates I ever coached," adding that, to this day, Camby ends text conversations with the words "I love you Coach." Johnson, meanwhile, said that when he first got to the league, he’d ask around as to who the helpful veterans were, always hearing Camby’s name come up.
Both Camby and Calipari have a connection that time has probably only made stronger. Camby grew up into a quality man and has faced the demons of his past rather than running from them. Despite having reason to be upset with Camby, their relationship is still strong and Calipari blames himself to some extent for not attacking the agents back then like some NCAA coaches have done recently.
Funny how life goes on, but it always does.