Following Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas State, John Calipari found himself in a bit of a controversy. In the postgame press conference, Calipari spoke on the closing minutes of the game, giving credit to Kansas State for making big three-point shots, while his team struggled to score.
“The little kid makes a three. He made a deep three,” Calipari said. “We miss a couple, and all of a sudden it gets out of hand.”
That “little kid” was Markquis Nowell, a third-team All-American who went for 27 points and 9 assists against Kentucky. Calipari’s comments soon went viral, garnering the attention of the Kansas State coaching staff and Nowell, himself.
Yo! @UKCoachCalipari U done this for a long time and one of the best on the mic. Never you refer to a great player as little kid! Put some respect on @MrNewYorkCityy you know he could play for you too! Say his name! Like you would @Drake he do right and kill everything! #EMAW https://t.co/20dbkgMsjd— Jareem Dowling (@Coachreem4ever) March 20, 2023
While this was taken as a sign of disrespect by many, it was more of a use of poor wording following an emotional loss. Back in 2016, Calipari even called one of his greatest players, Tyler Ulis, a “little guy.”
“I even call him little guy. Makes him so mad,” Calipari said of Ulis. “‘Give the little guy the ball.’ He just smokes, it’s coming out of his ears. But the reality of it is he’s really good.”
On Tuesday, Calipari made sure to clear the air of any controversy and reached out to Nowell to apologize for his comments and how they may have been taken. Nowell tweeted about the communications and the two “are good”.
Just Spoke To Coach Cal We Are Good!! ✊— Markquis Nowell (@MrNewYorkCityy) March 21, 2023