It’s rare that you see an assistant coach in college basketball receive a pay check the size of Kenny Payne’s during his time at Kentucky. But Kenny Payne was also a rare type of coach. He was so much more than just a regular assistant.
He had a grip on the locker room similar to head coach John Calipari. He was the calming voice & perfect smile on the bench that brought balance to the most heated moments. He knows the game of basketball as well as anyone and had the trust of every Wildcat that came to the University of Kentucky.
Last summer, Payne left Kentucky to take an assistant position under Tom Thibodeau with the New York Knicks. In addition to his wonderful opportunity, Payne also has the pleasure of coaching several former Wildcats. Immanuel Quickley, Julius Randle, Kevin Knox and Nerlens Noel all wear the blue and orange in Madison Square Garden.
While things are going good for Payne and the Knicks (7-8, eighth seed in Eastern Conference), days have never been darker back in Lexington. Calipari’s Wildcats are completely lost and on another landslide after losing their third straight game at Georgia on Wednesday.
Though the Wildcats had won three straight prior to their backwards stretch, Kentucky was just 1-6 to start the season and currently sit at 4-9. Calipari has been on record saying that Payne is missed and the team can’t simply replace arguably the best assistant coach in all of college basketball.
No one predicted the Wildcats would struggle like this to start the year, but they’d be lying to you if they didn’t expect some sort of lag due to Payne being in the Big Apple. While we can all wish KP was back in Lexington, the truth is he’s not walking through that door. Calipari and company have to solve their own issues and should flip the switch fast before the season is totally out of reach.
Tweet of the Day
“We’re gonna kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you. And when you knock us down, we’re gonna get up. And on the way up, we’re going to bite a kneecap off.”— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 21, 2021
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