The Interview

John Calipari

KENTUCKY HOOPS GURU

The Wildcats' coach assessed the impact on his program of having five players go in the first round and dished on recruiting a certain three-year-old

Dan Patrick:You called draft night the best in Kentucky basketball history? Is that a little bit over the top?

John Calipari: Well, it depends on your frame of reference and what you're thinking about. When I took the job, I said this will be a players-first program. And I said we want to graduate players. We graduated four. We want to win national titles. And it's to help players realize their dreams and we had five—five—players that are now realizing their dreams.

DP:Then do you assume that from your incoming recruiting class you will lose two, three or four guys next year?

JC: No. No one thought that Eric Bledsoe would go [to the NBA] after a year, let alone [as] the 18th pick. Daniel Orton didn't play his senior season in high school and played [13] minutes a game [for me]. You thought he'd leave and be in the first round? Everybody said there was no way after one year that DeMarcus Cousins's maturity would be where it would be for him to be able to leave. He may have to stay three years. And so all of a sudden, all five go. It's a players-first program, and if they're realizing their dream, I'm going to encourage it. And then we have to figure out as a program—I don't agree with one and done. Kids should be able to go directly to the league if they choose, or they should stay in college two or three years. I've said that for 10 years. But that's not the rule. With the young teams that we're coaching, the hard thing for our program will be to win those last two or three games. That's what's going to be hard.

DP:Would you rather have a lesser talented group that stayed three or four years?

JC: No. I like coaching the best. That's why I go on radio with you, because I like talking to the best. I said this last night, and I know this may be aggravating to some of the old guard of Kentucky. Last night for me, emotionally, you have no idea. It was like winning the national title. What if we had won the national title and none of them got drafted? Or they got hurt and their careers ended? Think about it. For me personally, it's not changing my life. Kentucky has won seven national titles. I'm hoping we back into a couple more, but who knows. For these young people, their lives and the direction of the lives of their families changed last night. For me, that's huge.

DP:Were you offered the Cavaliers job? Did you want to be considered?

JC: No.

DP:Have you talked to LeBron James?

JC: Yes. It was his son Bryce's third birthday about a week and a half ago, and I was [wishing him a belated happy birthday]. I apologized and said if I'm going to be coaching and he's going to be my playmaking player, I better remember his birthday. It's a running joke. [LeBron] and I are friends, but that's it.

DP:Did you already sign his son?

JC: Yeah. Absolutely. But I won't coach that long, so I already told [Bryce] he has to be one and done [laughs]. He has to be a one and done player, because at his age I'd probably be in my 60s and I'm not going to be coaching that long.

Gone Gaga

Comedian Chris Rock is one of my costars in the smash comedy Grown Ups. He's also a lifelong Mets fan. When he was on the show last week, I asked him for his take on pop star Lady Gaga's bird-flipping appearance at Citi Field last month. "Well, she's Lady Gaga," he told me. "She's not 'Lady Behave Yourself.' Her name is Lady Gaga. Do you want great behavior from a person named Gaga? Is this what you were expecting?"

Retro Groove

Ron Artest's music career stalled after the 2006 debut of his rap album, My World. Last week he unveiled a new single, Champion. I asked about his influences. "[It was] acts like Eminem and Nas. Now I just sound like myself. I'm probably influenced by a lot of today's artists, but I've got my own little style. My favorite music is from the 1920s. And then I go [to the] '30s and '40s. So I don't really know exactly how every rapper sounds today, because I don't even have them in my car."

Line of the week

MLB TV broadcaster Jim Kaat on what Alex Rodriguez has learned in New York.

"A-Rod learned that he was never going to be Derek Jeter.... It's Jeter's team and you're just one piece of the puzzle. Take that supporting role and run with it."

THE FINE PRINT: Romanian Victor Hanescu quit his third-round match at Wimbledon and spit into the crowd. He was promptly signed by the French soccer team.

Now Hear This

Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews

1. Al Leiter on Stephen Strasburg's All-Star chances.

2. Sean Payton talks about the Saints' delirious off-season.

PHOTOMICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK) PHOTOASTRID STAWIARZ/GETTY IMAGES (ROCK) PHOTOMARK GOLDMAN/ICON SMI (KAAT) PHOTOBOB ROSATO (CALIPARI)

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