It is no surprise that the University of Kentucky beat the University of Kansas to win the national championship Monday night.  They’d been number one most of the year by playing a brand of unselfish basketball that is rare for a group of young stars, most of whom, will probably be in the NBA one day.

University of Kentucky coach John Calipari holds national championship trophy

The most important Kentucky player was a long-armed Bill Russell throwback named Anthony Davis.  Davis, a freshman from Chicago, who won the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player Award, changed the thoughts of just about every opponent who considered making a run at the basket.   He led the nation in blocked shots.

So why do I feel mildly nauseated by Kentucky winning, while at the same time admiring their skill at playing the game?

Maybe it’s because I continue to be uncomfortable with Kentucky’s coach, John Calipari, a slick, smooth-talking, renegade who left two schools, Massachusetts and Memphis, amid scandals that officially stripped them of their Final Four appearances.   But amazingly Calipari himself sneaked away from personal sanctions in both of those cases- a slippery guy indeed.

It also feels wrong to cheer for a guy who somehow seems to get the country’s best players year after year.  He must be doing something illegal – right?  And to top that off most of his star players only stay in college for a single year.

Case in point, although Kentucky will most certainly lose Anthony Davis, and probably their other freshman sensation, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, to the NBA, it will re-load with another group of high school All-Americans next season.

Still, despite my discomfort with the coach, who in fact does knows how to get stars to play together, the players still have to actually play the game, regardless of the notoriety of their coach.

And this Kentucky squad played textbook team basketball all season long.  Selfless and sharing all the way.  They deserved to win the national championship.  They were the better team – by far.  Kansas never really had a chance.  Now no one can say Calipari can’t win the big one – even if like me, you wished you could keep saying it.

 

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  1. Ike says:

    I guess I would say just get over it. If you really think that Calipari is doing something beyond what guys like Thad Matta, Jim Boeheim, Bill Self, Roy Williams or even Coach K then you probably don’t have much of an understanding of how the recruiting process really works. Is it amazing that Cal wasn’t personally indicated in the sanctions? Does that really make him slippery or perhaps could he actually be innocent and the NCAA unable to prove him guilty?

    All a matter of perception, but don’t tell me that somehow Cal’s win is more “slippery” than Ohio State, UNC or Kansas’ recent victories.

  2. DavidBurnett says:

    I didn’t say that he did anything more slippery. But I have concerns. At the same time he’s put together some damn good teams with the very best young players in the country.