Calipari may have been coaxed into Louisville’s NBA debate

Raise your hand if you’re surprised John Calipari would insert himself into the debate on Mayor Greg Fischer’s efforts to draw a National Basketball Association franchise to Louisville.

If there’s anything puzzling about the University of Kentucky basketball coach’s action, it is that Fred Cowgill, of WLKY, would allow himself to be used as a pawn. Cowgill,  one of several Louisville media people invited to Lexington for “exclusive” interviews, has been named “Best of Louisville” in TV sports by Louisville Magazine for 15 consecutive years.

Calipari has been too quiet for too long for his involvement to be spontaneous. Most likely it was orchestrated.

“An NBA team that comes to our state makes Louisville a professional city and a professional state,” Calipari said. “What happens is you think it takes away from your program; it only steals some of the media. So instead of always being on the top column, you’re going to share that …”

Of course Calipari would have no problem with an NBA team in Louisville, knowing that a professional franchise would negatively affect UofL basketball. He delights in getting under the skin of Rick Pitino and Louisville fans.

He had been relatively quiet for months, probably because of a column by Rick Bozich, former Courier-Journal columnist now WDRB-TV sports analyst, who wrote in October 2011 that Calipari had a bad case of Pitino envy. This followed a Calipari jibe that UK basketball had no competition in the state.

“I guess he likes doing it, and knows he’ll get a reaction for it,” Bozich said in a follow-up video. “The best thing Louisville fans can do is just ignore it.”

Bozich is right, of course, except that a portion of the community fawns on UK basketball and Calipari. This ensures that the topic doesn’t go away for a while, the local sports media thriving on any UofL-UK controversy.

The timing is curious. Calipari has been too quiet for too long for his involvement to be spontaneous. Most likely it was orchestrated.

We suspect some current or former elected officials may have encouraged to Calipari to speak out as part of the Louisville Metro administration’s efforts to pressure UofL into renegotiating the lease for the KFC Yum! Center — even if landing an NBA franchise is a remote possibility.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

8 thoughts on “Calipari may have been coaxed into Louisville’s NBA debate

  • October 4, 2012 at 10:38 pm
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    I used to like Greg F. If this is a fight, and he is making it one, then I choose TJ. Just on principle. GF has solidified his UK vote.

    Never do business with family. TJ is learning a hard lesson. He feared this was going to happen, but, being a team player, and loving Louisville as he does, went against his better judgement.

    Again, I voted for Greg F.

    Not again. I can’t trust him any longer. And this sucks because I have some ties to him.

  • October 5, 2012 at 6:35 am
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    NBA is Not Best Alternative.

    The time, commitment and effort the University of Louisville put into changing it’s original game plan and deciding to go downtown should NOT be usurped by bringing in a bunch of overpaid, “me first” NBA players.

    You want people in that arena when Louisville isn’t? Bring in a WNBA franchise. Doesn’t conflict with the UofL schedule. Angel alone would draw 10,000 a night. Schedule more concerts and events like Disney on Ice.

    If the NBA desires Louisville, let them invest in a rebuild and makeover for Freedom Hall. Keep them out of the YUM!

    • October 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm
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      The State Owns the Arena Not UL Remember That When they need to raise Your taxes to pay for it.. I have never went to the Yum Center before but would if A NBA Team Landed Here. State Owned

      • October 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm
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        Louisville Metro built the arena, thankfully not the state. If you live in the city, you owe it to yourself to get down there and support U of L.

        • October 9, 2012 at 4:19 am
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          not everyone in the metro is a card fan! My taxpayer dollars helped pay for that arena, and I would like to see an NBA team here!

          • October 9, 2012 at 10:55 am
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            Thanks for your contribution. Without U of L’s commitment, there would be no arena downtown but a nice one on campus.

  • October 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm
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    what would it cost to get cheatingcal to shut his dam mouth for at least one season???/

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