Calipari introduces new book to Fayette County UK Alumni Club

When UK head coach John Calipari was in the nosebleed seats at Rupp Arena for the 1985 Final Four as a graduate assistant for Kansas, he might never have dreamed the Jayhawks would play such a pivotal role in his future more than 20 years later.

Calipari waxed poetic about his coaching journey and the role fate played in coming to UK while speaking to the Fayette County UK Alumni Club at a breakfast Saturday morning at the Student Center. He later signed copies of his book, “Bounce Back,” co-written with David Scott.

Asked if he thought he would be at UK if he had won the 2007 title game against Kansas, Calipari paused and thought for a moment.

“You know what? Maybe not,” he said. “Maybe I’m in the NBA, maybe I’m somewhere else. There were two jobs that I turned down over that period of time; one that I almost accepted. My wife didn’t speak to me for two weeks because I didn’t accept it. The other one was probably financially better than this was and I said ‘No.'”

The Memphis Tigers were up by nine points with just over two minutes remaining but lost the game. The appearance was later vacated due to NCAA violations surrounding the use of an ineligible player, star point guard Derrick Rose. Calipari said he flirted with the NBA, but the jobs he turned down were at colleges.

About 200 UK fans lined the bookstore for a brief moment with Calipari as he signed books and took pictures.

“It’s not a book about me,” Calipari said. “It’s not really a sports book. The publisher will be mad, but I’m saying if you want to read about sports, it’s not this book. It’s more of a self-help, a business, a leadership (book).”

Calipari also addressed his team this year, saying the Cats have “no experience.” He’s excited to be able to start practicing again and is working on conditioning his players. Besides conditioning, Calipari said chemistry issues could create problems on this year’s team as players vie for time on the court.

“You know why I love that we’re bringing this book out now?” Calipari said to the crowd. “This season is going to be based on ‘Can we overcome setbacks and adversity?’ Some we’re going to create ourselves because we’re going to have 12 guys fighting and trying to figure out ‘Who’s who, peeing on trees. Who’s what, that’s my tree.’ We’re going to have some of that.”

Calipari said the proceeds from the book will go to various charities, some in Lexington and some in Memphis. It may not be what most people are expecting, but Calipari is excited to have another way to reach out and connect with fans and recruits.

“Part of this, what we’re doing with books, is that it gives me the chance to reach hundreds of thousands instead of hundreds of players,” Calipari said.