UK TIPOFF LUNCHEON | Calipari: "I am not Kentucky basketball."

10/07/2015 04:20 PM

LOUISVILLE — John Calipari is the face of Kentucky basketball.

In just six seasons in Lexington, the newly minted Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer has guided the Wildcats to four Final Fours, two championship games, and one national title (2012) while also producing an NCAA-best 27 NBA draft picks, including a record six selections in 2015 alone.

But despite the success and publicity Calipari has received as the head man of Big Blue Nation, he insisted at the annual Kentucky Basketball Tipoff Luncheon on Tuesday afternoon that there’s only one UK legend worthy of representing Wildcat hoops:

“I just hope you understand: I do not think I am Kentucky basketball,” Calipari said to the over 700 guests in attendance at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. “I don’t think that. I’m in this seat temporarily. If Kentucky basketball is anybody, it’s Coach [Adolph] Rupp. I just happen to hold this seat.”

“Now, how I use it — for the Commonwealth, for the players, for the university, to build — that does fall on me.”

To prove his point, Calipari mentioned he’s the first Kentucky player or coach to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame without a direct connection to Coach Rupp.

Before Calipari’s enshrinement in September, he spoke with Adolph Rupp’s son, Herky Rupp, who assured him he was still a part of their Kentucky family.

“[It] made me feel good,” Calipari said, “because [Herky Rupp] knows I’m not trying to be Kentucky basketball.”

Click below to watch Calipari’s full speech from the tipoff luncheon, including his explanation to why Kentucky used platoons last season, why UK puts players first, and his expectations for this year’s team:


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