John Calipari doesn’t regret turning down Cavs’ $60 million



Prior to LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert was primed to make John Calipari one well-paid NBA coach—a $60 million offer which was eventually turned down. But now that James and a host of other quality players have decided to make their way to Cleveland through various channels, Coach Cal, who returned to the University of Kentucky, says he doesn’t regret leaving the money—or the wins—on the table.

“No. No. I don’t think so. Because he and I have a great relationship (with LeBron), but it’s not based on me coaching him,” Calipari told Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal. “We’ve got a relationship. I’ve known him for years and years. We’ve always been friends. But it was never based on that. I’ve said that. I’ve had a chance to coach Derrick Rose, John Wall and DeMarcus (Cousins), Anthony Davis and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). And I’m leaving names off, but I’ve coached some of the best players in basketball, and it is a thrill. There’s nothing better than that. Especially when those guys are all good guys.

“Well, LeBron is also that kind of player and that kind of person. But again, leaving guys who made decisions based on what’s right for their career was something I couldn’t have gotten by anyway.”

Calipari, always the warm soul, says he chose the relationship with his players over the NBA pay day. The Cavaliers ended up hiring David Blatt, a guy without the domestic popularity of Cal, but one who has impressed at every level he has coached. For his loyalty, however, Kentucky gave Calipari a $52.1 million extension through 2021. So fear not—there will still be a roof over his head and rumors of him making the leap to the NBA should subside for at least another 10 months.

(h/t Larry Brown)

  • Pat Leonard

    It’s cool Cal, the feeling is mutual. We don’t regret you passing up the $60M deal either.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I wish I knew how that felt!

  • 216 in 614

    also… I don’t believe him….

  • cmm13
  • cmm13
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    What’s your point cmm13? 😉

  • mgbode

    On the one hand, he has a new college system in place making it easier to pay players (perhaps even legally) and already in a program setup with Nike & WW-Wes directing the best of AAU to him (in a historically prestigious program). Staying there and getting compensated milliions while having overall less pressure (due to championships already won) and a ton more job security that may potentially go past his retirement (see: Mack Brown).

    On the other hand, he could have coached the world’s greatest player on a newly formed superteam, but one that will not get properly tested until the NBA Finals which will bring about a tested group from the West and anything less than a championship instantly starts the rumor mill (the team isn’t changing LeBron afterall). Even winning a championship gets put more on LeBron than yourself (where the opposite is true in college).

  • MrCleaveland

    Oh well, what do you expect him to say? “Oh, God, I really screwed up. I should have left Kentucky and taken the Cleveland job. What was I thinking?”

  • saggy

    i love her.