“You can tell the NBA story without Kentucky,” Colin Cowherd said during his daily show, The Herd, on Monday afternoon.
Cowherd went on to say Kentucky has had multiple busts and players who were too immature to succeed in the NBA, giving examples of Sam Bowie and DeMarcus Cousins. He also went on to say “It’s the University of underwhelming at Lexington.”
Chris Broussard, NBA Analyst for Fox Sports, stopped by The Herd to discuss the topic. His main point to why Cowherd was wrong: Pat Riley.
Riley, former Wildcat and SEC player of the year (1966), has been one of the marquee faces of the NBA since the early 1980’s. He coached Magic Johnson and the ShowTime Lakers to four titles in the 80’s. He then moved on to the New York Knicks and reached the Finals once again but came up just short in game seven.
Riley then went on to the Miami Heat where he stepped in once more to lead the Heat to their first NBA title in 2006. Riley also brought LeBron James to Miami to join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to win two titles in four straight appearances. Riley was executive of the year in 2011 with Miami. He’s still the executive for the Heat and is currently issuing a rebuild following LeBron James and Dwayne Wade’s departures.
Cowherd later said he and Calipari are friends. He added Calipari comes on his show because Colin is “fair.” Okay, let’s be “fair.”
John Calipari, in his seven complete seasons at Kentucky, has put 28 players in the NBA. In those seven seasons, Cal has started 17 of those 28 as freshman. He’s totaled 217 wins, appeared in four Final Fours and two Championship games to bring one title back to the Bluegrass during those seven seasons.
Of Cal’s 28 players in the NBA, four have become superstars in the short span: Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Karl-Anthony Towns. Cousins & Towns list 1-2 in the rankings of best center in the league, while Wall is fifth at point guard and Davis leads the way at power forward. The four have become faces of the NBA and despite being stuck with detrimental organizations, have excelled well for themselves.
Cowherd also provided his “All-Kentucky team” as follows: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Jamal Mashburn and Dan Issel. He made the argument that combined, the five have zero titles. He failed to mention that Wall, Cousins and Davis are just now entering their prime. He failed to mention Mashburn averaged 19 point per game and never played for a good team. He also failed to mention Dan Issel is 11th on the combined ABA/NBA scoring list (without a three-point line) and played during the Celtics/Lakers early era of domination.
Kentucky ranks first on the all-time wins list with 2,205. They also rank second, only to UCLA (11), on the National Championship list with eight. This all through 113 seasons, putting them on average of almost 20 wins a season and a title every 14. Their success has also come under just 22 coaches in the 113 seasons of the program.
While I admire and respect Colin Cowherd, the idea that you can tell the “NBA story” without Kentucky basketball is an atrocious take. Kentucky, the best college basketball program in history, has it’s blue & white fingerprints all over the history of the NBA.