Players' hopes swayed Calipari
His courtship with North Carolina State officially over, John Calipari can now focus on who will be in uniform next season.
By Gary Parrish
April 14, 2006
John Calipari met with media members Thursday for the first time since signing a new contract with the University of Memphis. Among his constant themes was that loyalty to his current players was more important than the additional money he could've made by accepting an offer to be the next basketball coach at North Carolina State. "This wasn't about money because if it was I wouldn't be standing here," Calipari said before a YES Foundation function at the Holiday Inn on the UofM Campus. "You're sitting here and you have a staff and their families, and then you have your other family -- those 13 or 14 basketball players. And at the end of the day there are a lot of young people pinning their hopes on what we do. We have a good group of young people, and I'm ecstatic about coaching them."
Calipari's remarks came near the close of a whirlwind week that began with N.C. State offering a deal worth close to $2 million per year that he ultimately rejected in favor of agreeing to an extension with Memphis. While details of the new contract have not been disclosed, sources told The Commercial Appeal it will increase Calipari's base salary from less than $1.1 million to about $1.3 million, though that number does not include additional shoe contract money or various incentives that will escalate the package. So in the end, everything worked out.
Memphis got the coach it wanted.
The coach got what he wanted.
But make no mistake, none of it came easy, the negotiations got testy and Calipari, at times, said he felt like he was on the verge of cardiac arrest. He wasn't eating. He wasn't sleeping. He was guzzling coffee like a Hummer does gas.
"I had chest pains so bad one night in bed and told my wife and she said 'Go to sleep' and I said, 'I won't wake-up. What are you talking about go to sleep?'" Calipari said with a laugh. "This is not something I wanted to go through or plan on going through again."
Now all the focus turns towards Darius Washington and Shawne Williams, each of whom has a decision to make about whether he will also return to the UofM. While analysts agree both could benefit from at least another year of college, Washington, a sophomore point guard, and Williams, a freshman forward, are admittedly considering turning pro.
Players who want to enter the NBA Draft have until April 29 to file the proper paperwork.
However, Calipari said Washington and Williams could announce their decisions "in the next couple of weeks" while adding through implication he'd have no issues if either or both opted to at least test the process without hiring an agent.
Under that scenario, the duo could work out for teams and participate in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp June 6-10. They would then have until June 18 to withdrawal.
"How can I tell them if they want to look at things not to?" Calipari said in reference to his serious look at N.C. State this week. "I'll meet with Darius and his father and Shawne and his grandfather. ... But this is not about us. This is about them."
-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365