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Calipari: “If you kill one of mine, I burn your village”

Jul 22, 2013, 4:45 PM EDT

John Calipari AP

John Calipari has a new book coming out, Players First: Success From The Inside Out, set for release on April 15 of next year. Prior to that, The Penguin Press, the publishing company releasing the book, leaked an excerpt from the book that might explain Calipari’s love for all things Kentucky and coaching in six paragraphs.

He starts by expressing his gratitude for his position. From the passionate (i.e. crazy) fanbase to the coaches that came before him. Dating back to his time at UMass, Calipari realizes how far he and his long-time assistant John Robic have come.

The fifth-year head coach also calls Kentucky “college basketball’s legendary program”, alluding to the banners that hang in the Joe Craft Center.

But then Calipari takes on the subject of why he does what he does. And it’s not for the state, the fans or the school.

I coach for the names on the back of the jersey—not the front. My players. They’re sent to me by their fathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, their aunts—whoever in this world raised them and loves them. Others look at their NBA bodies and consider them lucky. Future millionaires, just stopping through before they cash in. That’s not what I see. They’re kids, some of them as young as seventeen. They all need me in a different way. Some want my affection, others my approval. It’s a burden to be responsible for other people’s children, sometimes a heavy burden.

At the end, Calipari explains his spirituality, a subject you rarely hear about coming from him, at least publicly. Then, in probably the most poignant statement that I’ve ever heard from Cal, he hints that his passion for his players may exceed Kentucky fans’ passion for the program itself.

If you come after one of my players, I come after you twice as hard. If you kill one of mine, I burn your village. It’s the Italian in me. I’m not proud of that, but it’s who I am.

There’s no doubt Cal cares about all aspects of his job. From the fans to the players. He’s had a great amount of success in a short period of time — of course, up until last season — and he’s said before that he measures his own personal triumphs by the players he sends on to the NBA Draft or otherwise.

But that last line really brings it home. Love him or hate him, it’s obvious from that statement and others in the past that the truly man cares about the players that are under his watch.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

  1. tbutler704 - Jul 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    “If you come after one of my players, I come after you twice as hard. If you kill one of mine, I burn your village. It’s the Italian in me. I’m not proud of that, but it’s who I am.”

    I’d be proud of it. Great quote, by the way.

    • roadzombie99 - Jul 27, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      The typical wildcat fan has such a lack of creative thought or reasoning they don’t even realize that this “burn your village” comment is nothing more than just another recruiting ploy. Calipari plays for the name on the BACK of the jersey, not the FRONT? Give me a stinking break. You simple minded Kentuckians are going for that?! So, Calipari don’t care if the front of the jersey says Kentucky, Memphis, UMass or Podunk U…..Just so happens that Kentucky is the next college on the Calipari Ego caroussel. His “burn your village” statement was meant for the parent, grandparent, aunt, etc…These boys are going where mamma tells them to go. Calipari recruits the guardian, not the kid. He gets to the REAL issue with the guardians…MONEY! “Your boy will NOT get a college degree. He will only have to attend classes til mid-terms and the hard working simpleminded taxpayers in Ky will foot the bill and then BAM!!!! He’s in the NBA buying you a new pair of shoes, a caddy and a B-E-A-utiful hair weave!”

  2. jthammerstix - Jul 22, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    If you threaten me cal I will fucking bury your greasy ass.

    • jwbbn - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:03 AM

      Why would he threaten you, cal only pitties the ignorant. Too bad he is going to sell 100k copies while your stuck blowing your dad in the back yard of your one bedroom trailor. Get a life and quit stealing internet from the mcdonalds you half wit. Suck dicks n hell jthammer god bless bbn.

    • 1historian - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      strong words – spoken from the anonymity and safety of cyberspace

    • kingghidora - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      This is what separates Kentucky from people like you. I’m talking the BBN and it’s fans and it’s players and coaches. The fans all know what Cal is about and they’re behind him 100% or close to it. We all know about his secret charity work (he tries to keep it secret anyway) and his passion for doing right by his players. That’s exactly how it should be. Compare that with the vitriol and the hate in your comment. I see lots of comments from people like you. I really feel sorry for you because you miss out on so much of life being so full of hate like that. It’s a game. It’s a diversion for a while. It’s supposed to be fun. It is for me. I don’t want to kill people over it. I don’t get why some do either.

    • awinsk2 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:04 PM

      Cal would beat ur ass jerkoffhammersuckdick

  3. dgbk - Jul 22, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I will send my kid to play for jthammer

    • jwbbn - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      And im sure he sodumize him.

  4. prov1x - Jul 22, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Unless you are not as good at the point as I thought you were. Then, well, you’re on your own.

    • kingghidora - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Who the heck are you talking about? Wiltjer? Poythress? Poythress left to be closer to his father, who is ill, and because he knew he didn’t have the talent to play. Cal didn’t run him off. He chose to leave. Wiltjer left to get more playing time because he thought it would help him more to play more. Where do you get this stuff about Cal because I’ve never heard him say any such thing? Have you or did you just make up the most ugly accusation you could think of?

  5. prov1x - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    jwbbn….you do Ben proud. Keep up the good work.

  6. prov1x - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    Bbn, not Ben. Blasted apple auto spell.

  7. jjohnb5393 - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Poythress didn’t leave ……he is back next yr…..

  8. cranespy - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    ……tick….tick…..tick…..tick…..tick……tick…..the clock keeps ticking on Cal’s time in BBN……tick…..tick…..tick…..maybe sooner…….maybe later………but rest assured the walls will come crashing in on Cal……the question is how many titles will have to be vacated………two…..three……time will tell……

  9. glink123 - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:33 AM

    How was Cal at Memphis? Left that program squeaky clean, right?

  10. cranespy - Jul 27, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Uhhh… program Cal has left was “squeaky clean”

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