By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari obviously knew he was going to get the “Knicks question” at his pregame media opportunity on Friday.
As soon as news leaked that the New York Knicks were apparently going to hire agent Leon Rose as president of basketball operations, speculation started about whether Calipari might be a possible — or even likely — coaching candidate.
Rose and Calipari have been friends for years. It got even more interesting when word came that the Knicks were also going to hire William Wesley — better know as “World Wide Wes.” Calipari and Wesley have also been friends for many years.
So no wonder Calipari had to know news about the Knicks would be a topic of conversation at his pregame conference before Saturday’s UK game at Tennessee.
“Let me say this: First of all, I haven’t talked to Leon, so I don’t’ know if it’s done, if he’s doing it,” Calipari said. “I have no idea. But let me tell you about him. I’ve known him for 25 years, dear friend.
“In a rough and tumble business, I’ve never heard in 25 years anybody say a bad word about Leon Rose. Not one… He’s a gatherer. He’s a culture builder. I understand why they would do it — if they do that.”
Calipari said he would help Rose “in any way I can” as a resource. Then came the comment Kentucky fans wanted to hear.
“You want to call me about college players, my own players, I’m here,” Calipari said. “It just wouldn’t be to coach.”
Calipari previously coached the New Jersey Nets but has been at Kentucky 11 seasons now. He’s won 322 games, been to four Final Fours and has won national title. Twenty-nine of his UK players have been first-round NBA draft picks.
Calipari has been linked to other NBA jobs during his time at Kentucky.