Following Kentucky's national runner-up finish in 2014, John Calipari had the opportunity to leave for what would end up being the best NBA job to open in recent memory.
Cal had the chance to become head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after they fired Mike Brown following a dismal season. However, Cleveland would not only win the NBA draft lottery and the top pick, but also sign the league's best player in LeBron James.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel, Calipari admitted Cleveland was a real option for him, but wasn't something he regrets not leaving for.
"The only thing that was ever serious was the Cleveland thing," Calipari said Monday here outside Detroit at the "Coaches Beat Cancer" event, run by Oakland University coach Greg Kampe.
While there was no guarantee, there was, at the time, a possibility that LeBron James would return to the franchise, offering the chance to coach one of the greatest players of all time for an instant title contender. Opportunities like that just don't present themselves very often.
Cal, of course, said no to Cleveland. LeBron said yes. The Cavs open the NBA Finals on Thursday at Golden State.
So any regrets? Any pangs of wistfulness? After all, wishing you could do two things at once, run in dual tracts, doesn't denigrate the path chosen. Every coach would like to win an NBA title.
"No," Calipari said. "No, nope. Because what happened, and the reason I did what I did, was based on having guys come back who wanted to be coached. I didn't feel comfortable not being at Kentucky."
As Cal eluded to, having Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, and the Harrison twins return made it too difficult to leave. Those kids sacrificed a chance at the NBA to play for him one more year. How could Cal, with all he stands for, say he was leaving them for the NBA?
He couldn't. That's why Cal wouldn't leave for Cleveland then, and that's why he doesn't regret it.