Long before being named the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, John Calipari spent two and a half seasons (1996-99) in the NBA as head coach of the New Jersey Nets.
ESPN’s docuseries the Last Dance on the 1997-89 Chicago Bulls brought his short time with the Nets back to light in it’s seventh episode that covered the Bulls three-game sweep of Calipari’s New Jersey squad in the 1998 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
On this week’s episode of Coffee with Cal, Calipari talked about the series with the Bulls and about Game 1 of the series in particular.
The Nets made things interesting as it took overtime for Chicago to pull out a 96-93 victory. At one point, Michael Jordan started down Calipari in a moment that at first confused the now head coach of the Wildcats.
“He (Jordan) looked at me and (made an ‘0’ with his right hand). And I looked away from him and I look at Kenny Gatt (Gattison) and I’m saying, ‘Is he looking at me?’ Calipari recalled. So I look back up at him and he (made an ‘0’ with his right hand), and I go, ‘Kenny, what’s he talking about?”
Gattison replied,”’ I don’t think he’s going to let Kerry Kittles score.”
That’s exactly what would happen, as Jordon and the Bulls held Kittles to 10 points and 3/17 shooting.
For Calipari, it’s a moment he won’t soon forget but a series he probably wishes to.