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New Year, Same Coach

When disaster strikes, Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari always answers the bell (Dr. Michael Huang Photo).

When Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari met with the media this afternoon to publicize the upcoming telethon and open practice for Kentucky Flood Relief, it didn’t take long for everybody to realize it was the same old Coach Cal.

Always tanned and talkative, the same coach whose team lost to Saint Peter’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament remained as sarcastic as ever when reporters sat in silence after he asked one of his probing rhetorical questions.

“These guys here don’t follow things,” he jokingly quipped, as he nodded at the tongue-tied media types sitting in the first few rows of the peanut gallery.

Ahh, love him or hate him, Coach Cal’s never going to change when dealing with the media.

One other thing I hope never changes is Calipari’s heart for others. Actions speak louder than words and over the years, Coach Cal’s generosity and altruism have been well documented. Whether it’s the Haiti earthquake, Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Harvey, the West Liberty or Western Kentucky tornados, there’s Calipari front and center—with the massive Kentucky Basketball platform at his disposal—answering the humanitarian bell.

Even more significantly, the idea to help out this time wasn’t just a Calipari generated idea. This type of selflessness came from within the members of his team.

“CJ [Fredrick] actually came to us about it,” Jacob Toppin explained. “And then like we all went to Coach, and we talked about what we can do to best benefit Eastern Kentucky and what we can do to help them.”

Those are the type of players I want playing for my beloved University. In this age of NIL “get it while you can” greed, it’s inspiring to see young athletes putting their money and efforts into helping others around them. And it’s gratifying to see their character-building coach championing their efforts. Sure, you don’t want the team going 9 – 16 every year or losing to Poop State, but there’s no one else better in leading the program down the path of servant leadership than John Calipari.

When asked what the media can do to help with the flood efforts, Calipari was direct and succinct.

“Just get the word out,” he said.

So, I’ll do my part and sound the call. If you can, come on down to Rupp Arena Tuesday, August 2. Doors open at 5pm and the telethon and open practice will run through 8 pm. It’s first-come, first-served seating, and they’ll accept donations for Kentucky Flood Relief upon entry. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to benefit the immediate needs of Kentuckians impacted by the flood.

Calipari promised some giveaways—including 100 basketballs signed by the current team—and a surprise big-time announcement at some point during the festivities. A word of caution—they’re going to limit the floor access somewhat by pulling the courtside seating back a bit. With the team heading to the Bahamas in a week, you don’t want to risk anyone getting the ‘Rona.

If you can’t join in person, the telethon will air on LEX18 as members of the team will take calls at 859-787-0909.

You can also donate directly on the website

or mail a check to:

American Red Cross Bluegrass Chapter

Attn: Kentucky Floods

1450 Newtown Pike

Lexington, KY 40511

Hope to see you there.

Dr. John Huang is a UK columnist for Nolan Group Media and editor-in-chief of He also covers the NFL and MLB for Sports View America. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs. If you enjoy his writing, be sure to check out his new book, KENTUCKY PASSION.

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at

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