No Bull

Let’s get straight to the meat and potatoes of this shit.

Three Reasons Why Calipari Won’t Be Coaching in Chicago Next Season:

1) Frugality

Go to Wikipedia, type in the name “Jerry Reinsdorf,” and you will find that the third sentence of the owner’s entry reads, “He has been the head of the White Sox and Bulls for over 20 years, with a reputation for frugality.”

To even the most casual NBA fans (and/or recent readers of the compelling Sam Smith behind-the-scenes classic, The Jordan Rules), this comes as no surprise.  Despite the fact that the Bulls are, on average, the second-most profitable franchise in the NBA, Reinsdorf has always run his franchise like a cash cow.  With the exception of the tail end of Michael Jordan’s second tenure in Chicago (when he paid MJ roughly $30M/season, mostly because the G.O.A.T. paid for himself), Reinsdorf’s shown zero inclination to shell out big bucks for personnel.  The Bulls’ most-recent head coach, Vinny Del Negro, made about $2M/season, and the last semi-successful head guy before Del Negro, Scott Skiles, was paid roughly $4M/season.  According to reports, Calipari would need somewhere in the neighborhood of $8-10M per season to be lured away from Lexington.  Now, add that number to the buyout Reinsdorf would owe UK for snatching away Cal before his contract expired.  Then, add that number to the one that’ll be attached to LeBron James’ max contract.  In the end, no matter how sweet a package deal it may be, it’s hard to imagine a dollar figure like that coming out of Reinsdorf’s wallet.

2) Ego

Better yet, egoes. There’d be too many of them in the front office.  We’ll start with the guy at the top, Reinsdorf.

In addition to his reputation for being thrifty, Reinsdorf has an equally-deserved rep for ceding power to nobody.  With that said, Calipari’s reportedly stated that he wants a decision-making role in addition to the head coaching position at his next NBA stop.  Now, I’m not saying there’s a zero percent chance Cal’s coaching in the NBA next season, but I am saying that if there’s any truth to that demand, there’s a zero percent chance it happens in Chicago.

Same deal with John Paxson.  He’s the GM of the Bulls, and if we’ve learned anything about him over the past month, it’s that when this guy makes a decision, you best get the fuck out of his way.

And, finally, John Calipari.  Not unlike 1+1=2 and the inherent imperfection of man, John Calipari’s ego is a universal truth.  It is there and it is gargantuan; anyone who has heard him say just about anything could tell you as much.

Calipari’s had a tough time getting along with Mitch Barnhart. How’s he plan on seeing eye-to-eye with a tightwad like Reinsdorf and a bully like Paxson?

3) Common Sense

Seemingly lost in all this mess is the fact that Calipari (judging by, you know, his previous NBA coaching experience) would make a horrendous NBA coach.  His tenure with the New Jersey Nets was an abject failure, highlighted by a 72-112 career record and one quasi-racist rant directed at a NJ reporter.  The closest thing to a bright spot came in the form of the team’s 43-39 regular-season record in his second season at the helm, which ended with Kerry Kittles and Co. being swept in the first round of the playoffs.  The team picked up where they left off to start the next year, losing 17 of their first 20 to start the season before Calipari was mercifully given his walking papers.

Keep in mind, this is the same man demanding $8-10M/season to coach his next NBA team.

How many guys have to be given chances (or, in some cases, multiple chances) before GM’s learn that 99.99% of the the time, college coaches don’t translate to the NBA?  The list of successful college and NBA coaches in the last twenty years begins and ends with Larry Brown (and sort of Gregg Popovich), yet every year you hear the names of guys like Calipari, Pitino, Donovan, and Krzyzewski mentioned for horrible NBA gigs that a coaching fusion of Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach couldn’t turn around.  There’s an enormous difference between college and professional basketball — it’s called recruiting.  Cal is a great recruiter, maybe the best ever.  What he is not, however, is a great strategist.  This year’s Elite Eight match-up with West Virginia and the 2008 NCAA Title Game showcased that.  And while the college game allows him to go out and get the players he wants for the system he likes to run, the NBA is more of a play-the-hand-your-dealt kind of league.

In summation, the NBA doesn’t cater to Cal’s strengths.  He’s one of the best in the college game becaust he’s great at going out and getting the guys he wants.  Take away his ability to do that and I’m not sure he’s any better than the last handful of guys the Bulls have fired.

So, to review:

– The Bull’s won’t want to pay him.

– Calipari won’t want the front office headaches.

– Most importantly, he wouldn’t make a very good coach.

Now, can somebody please forward this to Reinsdorf and Paxson and tell them not to steal our fucking coach?


Stuff I Read and Liked

Before anyone says anything, I’m very aware that this idea is a complete and total rip off of Deadspin’s Stories That Don’t Suck, which has been coming out once a week for a little over a month now.  From the first time I saw it, I couldn’t help but think, Fuck, why didn’t I come up with that? The answer: Mostly because I’m incapable of an original thought, and partly because, even if I had thought of it, it seemed too simple to work: You mean you just post links to articles you like, regardless of what they’re about, and just hope people will be interested enough to read them?  Now I’ve really heard it all…

With that said, I like to think of Stuff I Read and Liked as more of a tribute to a site and idea that I very much enjoy, rather than a unapologetic thievery of material (even though one of this week’s pieces will be lifted from one Deadspin has already linked to, but whatever.)

While I do my best to read and absorb every piece of Kentucky Basketball literature I can get my eyes on, I like to think I do a fair bit of browsing online when it comes to other topics of interest as well.  I figure this sort of post allows me to kill two birds with one stone: I can read things that aren’t Wildcats-related without feeling like I’m wasting time and brain space, since the good stuff I come across will eventually help me create these posts.  Pretty genius, right?

One last thing: There’s no real criteria for what I link to.  They won’t have a theme or be relevant to anything, nor will they necessarily be recent.  They’re just stuff I’ve read, liked, and think are worth checking out.  Here goes:

“What’s Really Behind Kobe vs. LeBron,” by Bethlehem Shoals (from The Baseline), 2010.

…last night was definitively Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James for many marbles. Kobe was bone-chillingly on to start, but trailed off gradually and his Lakers (especially that Pau Gasol fellow) couldn’t pick up the slack. LeBron gained momentum throughout before exploding in the fourth, turning to his jumper when, up to that point, he’d casually steamrolled LA inside, reliably finishing, getting to the line, or finding J.J. Hickson or Anderson Varejao for something wide open.

Between this wry shift in strategy, Bron’s everywhere-at-once exuberance, and the smile on his face — and Eminem lyrics in his mouf in the crucial closing minutes — we got something akin to an LBJ manifesto. Contrast this with Bryant’s hard-edged opening, where every jumper fell, every split-second alteration came off, and you felt like the world was about to end, but not in a good way. Those were the game’s bookends, and while one had you running for cover, the other sent you out into the streets.

So it’s Bron, right? After all, isn’t the point of these heavily-hyped match-ups to determine the best player in the NBA?

At this point, not really.

“Chuck Klosterman Repeats The Beatles,” by Chuck Klosterman (from the A.V. Club), 2009.

It is not easy to categorize the Beatles’ music; more than any other group, their sound can be described as “Beatlesque.” It’s akin to a combination of Badfinger, Oasis, Corner Shop, and everyother rock band that’s ever existed. The clandestine power derived from the autonomy of the group’s composition—each Beatle has his own distinct persona, even though their given names are almost impossible to remember. There was John Lennon (the mean one), Paul McCartney (the hummus eater), George Harrison (the best dancer), and drummer Ringo Starr (The Cat). Even the most casual consumers will be overwhelmed by the level of invention and the degree of change displayed over their scant eight-year recording career, a span complicated by McCartney’s tragic 1966 death and the 1968 addition of Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono, a woman so beloved by the band that they requested her physical presence in the studio during the making of Let It Be.”

“True Romance,” by Jack Hitt (from Salon), 1998.

Why did President Clinton wear that necktie? I’m referring to the $100 silk Zegna in audacious gold-and-navy patterns that Monica gave him with the remark, “When I see you wearing this tie, I’ll know I’m close to your heart.” Clinton donned it for a gun-ban rally in the Rose Garden the very morning Monica was testifying before the grand jury. The New York Times suspected that it was “a plea for solidarity,” while Newsday thought it was a White House threat to Lewinsky “that she was being watched.”

But there was something off in the timing. “Ms. Lewinsky did not learn of Mr. Clinton’s choice of neckties until she turned on the television that evening,” the Times noted.

Now, any two-bit G-7 knows that Clinton would have had to wear the tie the day before so that she would see it on the evening news prior to her testimony. Certainly Clinton, of all people, would have known such media fundamentals. So think like Sherlock Holmes for a minute. If it wasn’t witness-tampering or a threat, then what was Clinton signaling?

I was on my third day of noodling this riddle (along with a few others I will get to shortly) while strolling to a friend’s birthday party in Central Park when I looked up to see Woody Allen’s familiar building. Woody and Soon Yi, Bill and Monica. Could it be? What if it wasn’t just meaningless sex by a groupie eager to try out her presidential kneepads? What if Bill and Monica were actually in love?

‘Bron ‘Bron in Lex

I think just about everyone’s seen this video by now, but given my unhealthy obsession with the LeBron-Kentucky dynamic, I’d be more than a little remiss if I failed to post it.  My two favorite things from the clip:

1) A stunner-shaded LeBron (presumably to shield him from the sirius-like glow of our seven National Championship banners) spectating in the Joe Kraft Center (2:15 mark).

2) Not being able to understand a word LeBron (or any player other than Mark Krebbs) says the entire time (Throughout).

He’s so cool.

Okay, these are just effin’ sick…

…if only I were still young enough to pull them off.  Here’s several more shots of them, as well as one of Wall wearing them versus Vandy:

And here’s LeBron generously using his 6’8”, 270 lbs. frame to to put the finishing touches on the Commonwealth’s favorite cheer:

UK downs Vandy, 85-72

 During the requested time, Dr. Steven Hochman, assistant to for

My apologies for taking so long to get this to you, but a combination of work and internet troubles last night forced me to delay this post until today.  I think by now there’s no real reason for a ‘recap,’ seeing how everyone’s seen the game and read/heard/seen the reactions from every medium across the  board.  Let’s get to the stuff that matters:

– Everyone talked about yesterday’s game being one that we’d learn a lot from regarding this Kentucky team.  Would they come out sluggish and sloppy?  Or would they be eager to show the country that last game’s loss to South Carolina was the fluke?  Calipari himself even said he wasn’t sure how this team would respond. Suffice it to say, they responded they way you’d expect a great team to respond–by storming out of the gates early and imposing their will inside on the undermanned Commodores.  DeMarcus Cousins destroyed A.J. Ogilvy inside (more on that in a moment), and Patrick Patterson, though not in the way I’d anticipated, got involved in the offense again, knocking down 3-of-4 treys on his way to 12 points (we’ll have more on him, too).  Keep in mind that all of this came against a strong Vanderbilt squad that had just knocked off Tennessee and came into the game ranked 23rd in the nation.  I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again:  When this team is hitting their outside shots, there’s not a team in the nation that can keep up.  They just have too much offensive firepower to defend.

– DeMarcus Cousins continues to amaze me.  He came into the season as a raw talent that most people were expecting to be an excellent third option to John Wall and Patrick Patterson, and he’s emerged as a skilled post-player as well as our go-to guy on offense.  Cousins finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds yesterday, his 12th double-double of the season (good for a UK freshman record).  He added two steals and a block on the defensive end, and was a huge part of that early Wildcat surge, scoring eight of the first ten Kentucky points while sending Vandy’s Ogilvy to the bench in foul trouble with 12:21 left to go in the first half.  He is, at this point, Kentucky’s best and most consistent offensive threat. He has the best motor (to steal one of Jay Bilas’ favorite basketball phrases) on the team, he brings the intensity every night, and you’re starting to get the sense that as he goes, so goes the rest of this team.  He’s definitely got some anger management issues–which popped up a couple more times today–but that’s the sort of thing you’ve just got to accept with a player like Cousins. You take the bad with the good and just hope the latter outweighs the former.  So far it is.  And so far, or at least right now, he’s the best player on Kentucky’s team.

– Patrick Patterson’s involvement in the offense is still frustrating to watch.  I’m convinced that the majority of it is due to a combination of Calipari and Cousins, with the coach’s offense only having room for one true big man, and the freshman’s emergence as one of the best big men in college basketball making him the man for the job.  Patterson’s outside shot has developed nicely–as evidenced by his 3-for-4 shooting performance from long range yesterday–and he’s accepted his diminished role with the sort of grace and aplomb we’ve come to accept from one of the all-time greats at Kentucky.  In a lot of ways, Patterson’s made the ultimate sacrifice for this team.  He altered his game in ways that he thought would make him a better fit for his new coach’s offense (and it has), only to watch the newcomers get the majority of his shots inside–where he made his living before–and see that part of his game (his bread and butter) disappear completely.  Maybe I’m talking a little bit to morbidly about the whole thing, but at this point in the season it’s hard to imagine Patterson becoming any larger a part of the offense than he currently is, which I personally don’t think is in Kentucky’s best interests.  With that said, there’s only one ball and so many shots to go around, and both Cousins and Wall (especially the former) seem to do better with more touches.  Patterson has a maturity to accept this role that I’m not sure either of them currently has, and maybe Calipari sees that, and maybe that’s the way it’s got to be.

– I toyed with the idea of writing a ‘Darnell Dodson needs to start against Vanderbilt’ post this week, but I thought that I already gave Darius Miller enough hassle over his play against South Carolina in my post Tuesday night, and that I was probably overreacting just a bit considering it was just one poor performance.  As it turns out, Dodson did start today, although it wasn’t for Miller.  Dodson started in place of Eric Bledsoe, for some reason, and while both of them had solid games (Dodson finished with 16 on 4-of-8 3-point shooting; Bledsoe finished with 13), Miller dropped another dud, finished with zero points on just one shot attempt in a grand total of eight minutes of action.  At this point, I don’t really know what Calipari can do with Miller.  He’s ostensibly a starter because he’s the most well-rounded of all the small forwards we have on the roster (himself, Dodson, Liggins, Harrris, and Hood, if you want to throw him in there), but he’s giving us by far the least.  He’s scared to shoot (0-1 FG against Vandy) while Dodson is not (5-10 FG, 4-8 3-PT), he’s not getting into the lane or to the rim like Liggins is (Liggins finished with nine points and shot six free throws against Vandy), and while their offensive numbers against Vandy are close to identical (both went 0-for-1 from the field, while Harris finished with one rebound and Miller handed out two assists), Harris has a defensive rep that Miller lacks.  What I’m saying is, when he’s on, Miller may be the best combination of outside shooting, penetration, and defense that the Wildcats have amongst their threes, but at right now he’s not giving them any of those with consistency.  What complicates Miller’s situation even more is his notoriously shaky confidence, which leads you to believe that a benching would be the worse thing in the world for.  Nobody wants to crush Miller’s ego, rather we just want to give it a little shake, or a jump start.  What the best way to go about that is, I do not know.

– With all that said, I like the idea of Dodson starting.  Whether it’s for Miller or for Bledsoe, he seems to shoot the ball better when he gets more minuets, and Bledsoe seemed to do just fine coming in in relief for him yesterday.  Kentucky’s bench has been a weak spot for their offense all year, and it’s possible that a little lineup jostling may help remedy that.

LeBron James enjoys a moment at the Kentucky game against Vanderbilt. This is the first game the Cats are wearing his new brand of shoes. (By Scott Utterback, The Courier-Journal)

– As everyone knows by now, LeBron James was in Rupp Arena yesterday, and, well, I’ll just go ahead and say it: How fucking cool was that?  Seeing James on the sideline decked out in his blue and white (or gray, for which we’ll give him a pass) was one of the coolest things I’ve seen at Rupp in a long time.  Don’t get me wrong.  Ashley Judd is hot and her UK alliance is impressive, but seeing a guy of James stature rooting on the Cats is just something else.  It’s been a long time since Kentucky’s been a cool team.  You probably have to go back to ’96, because even though we’ve had some good teams since, they were of the more blue-collar, workmanlike variety, which doesn’t necessarily equate with what we’re dealing with now.  We should enjoy it while it lasts.  As the last decade has shown us, this trendiness doesn’t always happen often.

UK leads Vandy 49-34 at the Half

LeBron James picked a good game to make his Rupp Arena debut, as the Cats have played one of their strongest first halves of the season.  DeMarcus Cousins leads a well-rounded offensive attack that’s given Kentucky a 15-point lead at the intermission.

– Cousins has dominated his matchup with Vandy center A.J. Ogilvy thus far.  He has 13 points and 3 rebounds (all offensive), while Ogilvy has four points to go along with two fouls.

– Darnell Dodson started the game in place of Eric Bledsoe and has six points on 2-of-3 shooting from behind the arc.  Bledsoe’s scored nine points off the bench, despite going just 4-for-9 from the foul line.

– Darius Miller continues to drive certain Lexpatriate bloggers crazy.  He’s only shot the ball once and has zero points.

– As a team, Kentucky is shooting 60 percent from the field, and has already knocked down 7-of-12 3-pointers.  They’re out-rebounding Vandy 19-12, and have moved the ball well on offense, assisting on 8 of their 15 field goals.

– John Wall has eight points and five assists.

– Liggins and Patterson each have six.  All of Patterson’s points have come on 3-pointers.  I’m glad to see him score some points, but I really wish he’d have more involvement in the offense than just floating around the perimeter.

– Something to watch: Wall, Bledsoe, Miller, Patterson, and Cousins all have two fouls for Kentucky.

LeBron’s Kentucky Shoe

This is fairly old news, I know, but this picture has been making its rounds on the internet as the rumored Kentucky-edition LeBron James shoe (it won’t let me post the actual picture on here, for some reason). To go along with the new kicks, the Cats supposedly have a whole new uniform they’re going to break out at some point in the season (KSR’s Matt Jones said the UT game is a good place to start speculating), which I’d imagine will also be LeBron-inspired, which is weird when you consider there’s nothing that connects him to the school, other than Calipari.  But whatever, we’ll take any association with LeBron we can get.

Given all the black on the shoe, I’d say the smart money’s on a black uniform, not unlike the one they wore last year as a tribute to Bill Keightley, with the King James patch on the shoulder Ohio State sports.  Maybe, instead of every player wearing the name ‘Keightley’ on their back, to honor their old assistant, they’ll wear ‘James,’ to honor the guy who’s making it so trendy to root for Kentucky again.  Or maybe not.  It’s just a thought.