By LARRY VAUGHT
Could Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban be the one to help restart the Kentucy-Indiana basketball series that was stopped after UK lost at Bloomington early in the 2011-12 season and students stormed the court to celebrate.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has refused to return to Bloomington to play since then and Indiana officials have been opposed to only neutral site games.
Cuban was the first guest on Calipari’s “Coffee with Cal” show on Facebook live Monday and wore an Indiana basketball T-shirt because he’s a Indiana fan. The two talked about the series starting again and Calipari suggested Cuban had an area — American Airlines Center in Dallas — that could be used.
Cuban had another idea.
“With all this going on, I think close proximity is going to be important so we don’t have to get in planes and fly somewhere, we just drive, so I say we just flip a coin. Cal I’m talking about now. I’m saying, as we try to transition out of this, we need to get those first games. Lexington and Bloomington are so close,” Cuban said.
“We flip a coin, decide where the game is played that way, we get on buses, we take the buses right to whichever arena and then we just throw the ball up with fans or without. Made for TV.
“If the NCAA doesn’t want to go for it, I’ll figure it out. I’ll get us a TV partner or you have your TV partners. IU’s got theirs. Let’s just do this. Let’s be that first game coming out for college athletics and get the ball rolling.”
Without fans, Calipari told Cuban he would be okay playing in Bloomington.
“Hey, without fans, I’m in. And we can do it without fans and like I said, I offered different places to play but you got it. If that were to start us up and bring everything together … I watched IU. They’re going to be really good. You know I lost my whole team, is that why you’re doing this? They don’t even have a scholarship to give out. They have all 13 back,” Calipari said.
As he is prone to do, Calipari later came back to the Indiana-Kentucky possibility again — telling me he kind of liked what Cuban said. He even joked he would have to get “some floor seats in Dallas (for NBA games)” if the game is played and UK loses.
“Just think how much fun it would be,” Cuban said. “Clean the bus up, get the kids on the bus. Essential personnel only, no fans. Put it on national television. Just get the whole country to go nuts because college basketball is back. Unbelievable.
“We’ll do this. We’ll set up a fund for some charity that really needs it, and whichever side’s alumni donates the most, that’s where it’s played.”