No Bull

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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?

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Worldwide Wes Checks In

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It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything from our man Mr. Wesley.  But Bill Simmons readers got the chance to learn a little more about him this week, albeit in anecdotal form, through Simmons’ most recent piece on ESPN’s website.  I’ll just get straight to the excerpt:

So it’s 2:45 in the morning on Friday night. All the Dallas bars and parties have either closed down or stopped letting people in. I’m standing on Main Street with a bunch of people, including Worldwide Wes, the renowned NBA power broker who’s really a cross between Confucius, a benevolent uncle and The Wolf in “Pulp Fiction” to assorted NBA superstars and up-and-coming stars. Known as “Uncle Wes” to the players, he carries more weight within the league than basically anybody. Because he keeps such a low profile, I could never figure out why. Which is why I went out of my way to spend some time with him on Friday night.

Back to Main Street: We’re standing with a young player who wants the night to keep going. The young player pushes to find another bar even though the odds are against it. Uncle Wes makes a face. He’s squashing this right now.

“Nothing good can happen at this point,” Wes explains simply. “You can’t chase the night. When the night is over, the night is over. That’s just the way it is. You just gotta wake up tomorrow and hope for a better day.”

Uncle Wes had spoken. I am not exaggerating by saying it’s a strangely profound moment. Within 15 seconds, our group splinters in three directions to look for cabs. I find one with my friend Connor. We climb in. We look at each other.

“I will never be able to properly explain that story to anyone,” Connor said.

Still, the question remains, what to make of Wes?  Who is this man dispensing grandfatherly advice to prima donnas in the wee hours of the morning during All-Star weekend?  Is he really this omnipotent figure lurking in the shadows of every important decision for basketball stars the world over?  Why do so many powerful NBA figures–LeBron James, Allen Iverson, and Donnie Walsh, just to name a few–hold him in such high esteem?  Is he really funneling players like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall to whatever school John Calipari decides to coach?   And, if so, does he already have a bug in the ear of Brandon Knight, Josh Selby, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, and C.J. Leslie?  We really need him to come through on those guys for us.

The Curious Case of William Wesley

worldwideSurely by now, just about every Kentucky fan on the planet has heard of Worldwide Wes: He’s that mysterious figure lurking in the background of Calipari’s recruiting success, the one that so many people have so many negative things to say about.  Given, no one has been able to wave any specific red flags, but there seems to be a universal agreement that William Wesley is a guy that has a borderline illegal influence on where the kids he befriends attend college.

I’m not trying to sway your opinion on Wesley one way or the other; however, I do think that every Kentucky fan (and therefore by default, John Calipari supporters) should make themselves read this GQ profile of Worldwide Wes from 2007.  It paints the picture of a hypomanic young shoe salesman who used his natural charisma and ambition to meet professional basketball players, become a VIP, and subsequently take over the basketball world, team-by-team, level-by-level.

Keep in mind, this article was written shortly after Derrick Rose had given his commitment to Memphis, and long before Tyreke Evans would ever give his verbal to Cal and the Tigers.

Excerpts:

“This afternoon’s main attraction is one Derrick Rose, a six-foot-three-inch blisteringly fast point guard from Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy. Journalists and insiders who have followed Rose’s career also noted Wes’s presence on the sideline of Derrick’s AAU games last summer. Rose’s college choices came down to Memphis, Illinois, and Indiana. One journalist told me, ‘When I saw the list, I knew Derrick was going to Memphis.’ The prediction was correct.”

And, at least to me, most interestingly:

“Tyreke dominates the second half of the game, finishing with thirty-three points and six assists. It’s a good day for Wes’s nephews, and there are better days to come. Chances are good that a year from now, after one season at Memphis, Derrick Rose will be an NBA lottery pick. And a year after that, Tyreke Evans will follow suit. For now, though, Tyreke stands at center court, gripping his MVP plaque, trying not to blink at the flashbulbs. Wes stands five feet out on the court in a circle of people. A few feet away, Reggie Evans stands on the Garden floor, too, with his hands in his pockets, taking in the moment. Wes drapes an arm over Reggie’s shoulder and pulls him closer. I think I can read Wes’s lips: ‘Come here. There’s somebody I want you to meet.’”

The New York Times has also spent a little time researching Wes, as well as Wes and Cal’s relationship, specifically—in which, it is revealed that Calipari was introduced to the idea of expanding his brand to China by Wesley.

Very interesting stuff.  That’s all I’m saying.

GQ: Is This the Most Powerful Man in Sports?

NY Times: A Confidant to the Big and the Small, Woven Into All Levels

NY Times: Memphis and Calipari Go to Hoop in China