By LARRY VAUGHT
During Wenyen Gabriel’s two years at Kentucky I certainly never sensed that he had a major problem with coach John Calipari.
I knew Gabriel didn’t get to play as much as he wanted — but that happens with a lot of players. He certainly showed at times he had big-time talent but at other times was not nearly physical enough.
Count me as one who was surprised when he left UK after his sophomore year for the NBA but it has seemed to work out okay because he’s now with the Portland Trail Blazers. He was also popular with UK fans when he left.
However, Gabriel’s honesty as made him a villain with many UK fans and that only intensified this weekend when Gabriel responded after coach John Calipari wished former UK center Bam Adebayo on social media. Adebayo, who now plays for Miami, and Gabriel were in the same UK recruiting class.
“Damn where was my bday wish in March?” Gabriel posted on social media with a laughing emoji.
Some former UK players could have done that and it might have been funny. But remember when UK was recruiting Jaden McDaniels of Washington and Gabriel basically told McDaniels in text messages that he would not recommend Kentucky because of false promises Calipari made to him.
“Don’t fall in love with his words let me tell you the real!” Gabriel texted along with much more biting criticism.
Gabriel insisted he tried to reach out to Calipari to apologize before the comments went public but didn’t get to talk to his former coach.
Kentucky fans let Gabriel know on social media that they did not appreciate his birthday comment to Calipari. Gabriel told fans on Instagram he “gave everything I had” when he played at UK but that he “didn’t like playing” for Calipari.
Calipari seldom has been criticized by former players. Most have embraced what he did for them. Does this make Gabriel wrong for feeling how he does? No. Does this mean Calipari did something wrong? No.
It just means this time there’s a former player not enamored with his former coach and Gabriel certainly is entitled to his opinion.