We go together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong. Remembered forever like shoo bop shoo wadda wadda yipitty boom de boom. -Grease
Public Service Announcement: Ok, here we go! Pitino and Calipari. Calipari and Pitino. Birds of feather. Me and my shadow, strolling down the avenue. Just me and my shadow, all alone and feelin’ blue. The connection between John Calipari and Rick Pitino is eerie. Spooky. Creepy. Where there is one, there is the other. To have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. These days it’s for worse. It’s for poorer. It’s in sickness.
The bond between Ricky and Johnny can be traced back to the legendary Five Star Basketball Camp near Pittsburgh. Pitino a counselor. Calipari a mere camper. It was then and there Howard Garfinkel, the guru of Five Star, introduced Calipari to Pitno as ”the next Pitino.” The rest is history. Their paths have crossed, intermingled, interblended, interfused, interlaced, intermixed and have been interwoven ever since.
- Pitino got Calipari his job at UMass.
- At the ’91-92 Sweet Sixteen, UMass lost a heartbreaker, dream maker, love taker, don’t you mess around with me to Kentucky when Coach Cal was thrown out of the game. Pitino survived only to go on to meet Christian Laettner and destiny.
- Four years later, Pitino had built Kentucky into a national powerhouse. Folks said, “Best team ever.” Folks said, “They won’t lose.” They did lose. They lost in game two of the year when Marcus Camby and UMass upset the Cats 92-82 only to lose to Kentucky in the Final Four.
- The New Jersey Nets offered Pitino a $30 million contract. Pitino turned the Nets down. Calipari did not. A year later, Pitino followed along the NBA path, going to the Boston Celtics and promptly ran them into the ground.
- Ultimately, both men returned to college basketball to relaunch their careers. They both did so at tradition-rich programs that had fallen on lean times and were in desperate need of resuscitation.
And that brings us to this. Pitino and Calipari, Calipari and Pitino, did indeed breath life into their respective teams, only in turn, to give them the kiss of the death.
Last week Pitino made the headlines after he acknowledged to police that he had sex with Karen Cunagin Sypher and gave her $3,000 after she said she was getting an abortion and didn’t have health insurance. Louisville seems to be standing by their man. Giving him two arms to cling to. And something warm to come to. No matter how sullied their reputation.
Not to be outdone, today we find out, for the second time, a John Calipari-coached team will be stripped of a Final Four appearance. Memphis does not have the opportunity to choose to stand by their man. Does not have the opportunity to do things that they don’t understand. Calipari bolted and left Memphis to clean up his mess. Just like he did to UMass.
Rats of a feather do indeed stick together.
Peace out homies. Six two and Even!