CRAWFORD | Calipari and the amazing 100-pound dreamcoat -- with - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Calipari and the amazing 100-pound dreamcoat -- with birthday balloon

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The University of Kentucky beat visiting Montana State 86-28 in Rupp Arena Sunday night.

There. That ought to just about take care of the game portion of this column.

Did you know that John Calipari showed up to the postgame news conference with a balloon? It was a nice, shiny one.

Calipari is a veteran coach. He knows, when you beat a hapless visiting team like a dog, you'd best bring something shiny to the press conference to attract the media's attention.

He didn't major in marketing for nothing.

Oh, marketing. Calipari got this one off in his postgame interviews. He said that by the time you add up all the pressure of playing at UK — the 45-0 expectations, the “they could beat the 76ers,” the constant media and public attention, the frequent critique, the voices of friends and parents — by the time you pile all of that on these young players, it amounts to, well, wait. He tells it better.

“What these kids deal with, to be here, to play here, to be part of this program, they wear a 100-pound coat,” he said. “. . . The people coming in to play us? They got windbreakers. They're loose as a goose.”

Boom. This just happened.

Another million for the merchandising guys to deal with. Coming soon to fine clothiers near you. And just in time for Black Friday and the holidays.

Yeah, I'm getting to the balloon. Just hang on a second.

What Calipari knows, and believe me, as a writer, I appreciate it, is that when the game is a dud, you better fill up reporters' notebooks after the game. Or whatever it is reporters fill up in 2014. I'm pretty sure it's not notebooks. Whatever it is, he may well find himself in this position often this season.

A year ago, that didn't always happen. Calipari, to be honest, probably felt worse than anyone knew. He sent assistants to press functions. He was irritable and defensive. Part of that, of course, is because his young team was losing.

But this year they aren't losing. And they aren't all that young. And after a surgery to replace his hip and a summer of rest, Calipari is feeling good. And it shows.

So he shows up with the balloon. A prop. It's for his daughter, Megan, who turned 25 Sunday. Only he Tweeted her a touching message . . . on Saturday.

You probably read about it. ABC News wrote about it. USA Today had it. The Sporting News. Everybody. Newspapers and Buzzfeed and Reddit and RockChalkBlog (whatever gets you through the night, fellas.)

I'm not kidding. I Googled “Calipari forgets daughter's birthday” and it returned more than 68,000 items. I'll not enumerate them here.

But listen — if that's not the greatest birthday gift you've ever heard of, I don't know what is. Try reading through all those. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. His daughter is a household name. I mean, some news service in Australia had it.

I'll tell you where you didn't read about it — And why? Well, I didn't think it was a particularly big deal. I was a little surprised to see all the fuss. My bad.

But more than that, it just seemed to me that as a guy, Calipari undoubtedly knows what I know, and what most conscientious guys know. If you don't know this, you're going to learn something from this Montana State discussion.

It's like this. If you're shooting a pressure free throw, you're better off missing long than short. Same with a big putt. Don't ever let them say you gave in to nerves. Throwing out the first pitch at a ballgame? Miss high. But don't bounce it up there.

There are ways to miss things and ways not to miss them.

And if you're going to miss a birthday? Miss early. A guy misses early, it's endearing. It's cute.

“Oh look at that guy. He's trying so hard he was early.”

And everybody laughs about it the next day. Or, if you're the Calipari family, everybody laughs about it when it goes by on a Times Square news ticker the next day.

But if you miss late — well, you don't want to miss late. If you miss late, you're a bum. You're thoughtless. You're a heel.

Remember that.

Calipari missed early, so he could come into the press conference later and everyone could laugh.

“The day she was born -- she was born on Thanksgiving,” he said. “And I always will remember the day because I had practice later that day, and I can remember telling my team, it doesn't matter what you do today, you cannot make me angry. And I still remember the day when I said that. So, she's a good girl, Meg, and -- why does that go all over the world, by the way? The whole world, yeah, but it was like they invited me to Good Morning America to talk about it. What?”

No, actually, he let on later, Good Morning America didn't invite him, though everyone believed for a few minutes that they had, because, well, just look at Google.

So there was no Good Morning America, but once again it was a good night for UK and Calipari.

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