John Calipari says he would’ve stayed at Kentucky even if he knew LeBron James’ decision

john-calipariBack in June, Kentucky head coach John Calipari flirted with the notion of leaving Kentucky to become the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And if you believe reports, Calipari ultimately decided to turn down an offer that would have made him both head coach and team president and that would’ve paid him nearly $80 million over 10 years.

Fast forward a month or so later, LeBron James announces that he’s returning to Cleveland and one begins to wonder if Calipari is kicking himself. If he had decided to accept the Cavs’ offer, not only would he be a head coach and team president of a NBA franchise, he would be coaching the best basketball player on the planet.

But if you ask Calipari, as the Courier-Journal did, he has no regrets. In fact, even if he had known that James was returning to Cleveland, he still would’ve remained at Kentucky.

“Now, obviously coaching at Kentucky is special. It is unique and special. But this, for me, becomes about these kids. I have no desire, nor am I out looking for (jobs). I got the job. I got the job. What would move me to stay was these kids need me here. That’s what I’m doing. At the end of the day, that was what (kept him at UK). It wasn’t money.”

As for reports that stated Calipari was in the serious talks with Cavs, Calipari maintains that he was “not as (close) as everybody thought” to taking the job and knowing James’ decision wouldn’t have made a difference.

“No. No. I don’t think so. Because he and I have a great relationship, but it’s not based on me coaching him,” Calipari said. “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 also says that Kentucky “could” behis final stop in his coaching career. So maybe Cal truly has no interest in returning to the NBA.

H/T Real GM

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