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Kentucky Basketball: John Feinstein Should Look In The Mirror

John Feinstein deigns to look down upon John Calipari from his place on Olympus, and declares him egotistical.

Lance King

John Feinstein has long been a critic of both John Calipari and Kentucky. We are asked by John Clay and others to forget that fact (and it is a fact), and accept this piece as cogent analysis of John Calipari. Never mind that the article repeats the following documented fiction as a set-up for his argument:

  • An implication that Calipari was involved in Marcus Camby's NCAA violations at UMass (in the form of, "there is no proof, but..."). The NCAA expressly exonerated Calipari in that matter, as we all well know by now, and it was Calipari himself who brought Camby to the attention of the NCAA.

  • An accusation he fled the UMass job because of the Camby matter. The fact is that the NCAA's only punishment of UMass was a vacated Final Four. No other sanctions were levied against the school. Calipari left UMass mainly because New Jersey offered him 3 million dollars per year to coach the nets, and coaching salaries, particularly at mid-majors like UMass, weren't anywhere near where they are these days. Calipari's starting salary at UMass was $68,000.

  • An accusation he fled Memphis because of the alleged Derrick Rose matter, along with the "there was never any proof, but..." smear again. The fact that he had always wanted to coach at Kentucky was never even mentioned.

  • Mentions of "whispers" about Memphis as if they were facts, not unfounded rumors. Whenever you see a conspiratorial set up like "...but there had long been whispers about the program" about someone, you know the author believes them.

  • Feinstein points to "...some of the people Calipari regularly allowed to hang out with his team" as evidence the "whispers" were credible. He's talking about the Great Satan, William Wesley, a.k.a. World Wide Wes, a guy who's been the subject of nothing but unfounded rumors for years.

  • An accusation that Kentucky didn't care about Calipari's past, only his success. The facts are that Kentucky passed on Calipari in favor of Billy Gillispie because of the "whispers" and his past. When they did express interest in Calipari, they investigated him thoroughly, and carefully before offering him the position.

Feinstein's conclusion that Calipari "fell in love with himself" after the 2012 national title may be right — I don't know and neither do you, but it's as valid an opinion as any. The trouble is not with Feinstein's conclusion; it's how he got there, and the foundation of any argument must be sound for the argument itself to survive. Feinstein's isn't. Had he simply tweeted, "After he won the national championship in 2012, I think Coach Cal kind of fell in love with himself", I think I would have had no problem with it. In essence, that's the only part of this whole article that isn't cringe-worthy.

However, it's clear that Feinstein isn't trying to make an argument here, despite assurances from all and sundry that he is. He simply wants to bash Calipari, and now happens to be a very opportune time to do so. We might rationally ask why this article didn't show up last season, and the truth is, Feinstein didn't dare — Kentucky might have won a national title this season, as many, including yours truly, expected. And it still could theoretically happen, in which case Feinstein will be roundly mocked until Kentucky fans get tired of it.

But Feinstein figures his odds are good enough now to make his piece meaningful to disappointed Wildcats fans, and if you want to embrace this drivel, I can't stop you. I can tell you that if you do, you're a sucker, in my opinion. Despite his prodigious talent, John Feinstein is a narcissistic, sanctimonious jerk with few redeeming qualities and a declining skillset. He was among those who bought into the accusations against the Duke lacrosse players a few years back, saying that the season should be cancelled and every player's scholarship revoked who would not speak with the authorities (forget that pesky old Fifth Amendment). Talk about being on the wrong side of an argument. It also goes without mentioning that his status as a Duke alum carries a bunch of automatic jerk points. Duke, it seems, rubs off on people that way.

So buy his bilge if you are really feeling anti-Calipari these days, but if you have any semblance of rationality left about you, recognize it for what it is — dumpster-worthy rubbish. But I'll give Feinstein this much — if the old taunt, "It takes one to know one" has any basis in reality, you should probably take the "Calipari has fallen in love with himself" more seriously. After all, nobody on planet Earth would know more about that particular malady than John Feinstein.