Basketball is a game meant to enjoyed passionately. Unlike the summer-long 162 grind of baseball, basketball is taken 40 minutes at a time in roughly 35-40 chunks a year. You get no more than that, so each game can feel like it's very own beginning or end to something. Frequently, the narrative changes inside the 40 minutes allotted for play. This leads to heightened emotions, and that means the tow most extreme emotions, love and hate. In this series we'll have a look at things that Xavier fans spend their winters loving or hating.
What is it about college sports that can make them seem better than their professional counterparts? Frequently, people cite the purity of the competition as one of the main reasons. It's kids living out the dream for perhaps the final time, playing just because they love the game so much. Some get no money, just walk into a gym every day for and endless line of physical punishment in the hopes of maybe playing 10 minutes during the season. Even all but the very top stars get swept up in the atmosphere of playing in front of peers, performing in front of the same people you occasionally sit next to in class.
Enter John Calipari. Wherever Calipari goes, he strips the game of that little bit of collegial naivete that can make it so appealing. At Massachusetts he had the most successful season in the history of the school, only to see it vacated in a story so tabloid ready (jewelry, hookers, money) that it reads well even in a today's age of hot takes. After that came unsuccessful stint in the NBA that bottomed out with screaming racial slurs at a reporter he threatened to physically assault.
Calipari had more up his sleeve though. Next the travelling cheat show swung through Memphis, where one of greatest final games in recent memory was vacated because, stunningly, Calipari had again swindled his way to the top. Memphis recently scheduled a banquet to honor the former coach but faced so much public outcry that they canceled it. Yes, a university canceled a potential fundraising event. All that adds two Final Fours forfeited, up to 69 wins vacated, and one fundraiser canceled.
Add into that the habit of very publicly blaming his players instead of himself, of recruiting only one and dones, and the overwhelming arrogance of a man who, once the UK seasons are vacated, has never really won much in the game, and you begin to get some idea why we hate John Calipari.