Bob Knight can't bullwhip his players anymore, and so over the past few years he's redirected his unmitigated anger about college athletics. It now rests squarely on the head of Kentucky basketball pimp John Calipari. On Saturday, Knight spoke to some Hoosiers at a banquet in Wabash, Ind. and claimed that the starting five on the 2009-2010 Kentucky basketball team "had not been to class that semester."
"And that's that one-and-done philosophy that we have now," Knight added. Yeah, we're still having this debate, and, yeah, Knight and his ilk are still missing the point.
Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart quickly responded with a statement on the school's website and in The Courier-Journal on Monday; he called Knight's remarks "blatantly erroneous" and a "great offense" to the school and its players. The lineup Knight referred to — the team advanced to the Elite Eight of the tournament that year — in fact only had three "one-and-done" players. Patrick Patterson graduated in three years (which made for a succinct response to Knight's claims) and junior Darius Miller is still a member of the team; John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins all jumped to the NBA after their freshman seasons.
Knight was wrong. He made the comments at what probably amounted to a booster luncheon in the middle of Indiana; to be fair, in this setting, bullshit goes well with the potato salad.
But this is hardly the first time that Knight has singled out and assaulted Calipari's practices at Kentucky. In December 2009, in a speech in Indianapolis, he told the crowd, "Integrity is really lacking [in college basketball]. We've got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation, and he's still coaching. I really don't understand that."
He was wrong then, too. Calipari has only had one school — Memphis — on probation. What's interesting about Knight's crusade is that Calipari feels no shame about allegedly perpetuating the "one-and-done philosophy" of college hoops, which isn't a philosophy so much as, you know, a collectively bargained rule in an honestly professional basketball league. In March, Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price reminded us:
Calipari once declared that rather than competition or education, "everything in this game is marketing," and it's a constant struggle for rivals and the hoops commentariat to decide where his sell begins and ends.
Depending on your stance on the NCAA, that's either a loathsome interpretation of modern college sports or a hard truth of what they have become.
This battle, one-sided as it really is, is the perfect paradigm for the NCAA's competing ideologies: On one side, Knight, the self-styled champion of integrity and balance for today's student-athlete and the system he plays in. On the other, Calipari, the greaseball hustler realist who understands the black market he presides over and who does his best to manipulate it to his advantage. Calipari's approach may not be especially ennobling, but it's a pure product of a system that never had any real innocence in the first place for people like Knight to defend.
Kentucky fires back after Knight's banquet blast [SportingNews]