Players first. Those two words have been at the epicenter of Kentucky head coach John Calipari’s coaching philosophy throughout his career. They’re his guiding light and his purpose. They’re his everything.
To hear the newly-minted Hall of Famer tell it Friday night as he delivered his speech at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, it’s why he’s going into the Hall in the first place.
“The reason I stand here is more about the players I’ve coached,” Calipari said at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass. “I’m here because I coached the greatest group of kids over my time that anyone could ever imagine.”
And so, midway through his 18-minute speech – the final of the 11 presentations on Friday – rather than try to tell his players how much they’ve meant to him, Calipari decided to show them by including them in the moment.