LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville men’s basketball coach Chris Mack said he called Kentucky coach John Calipari on Sunday morning and that Calipari graciously accepted Mack’s explanation about a video that featured Mack kiddingly disparaging Calipari and the UK basketball program.
“He was gracious as always,” Mack said. “I think he understood the context.”
Mack also said he made an error by not following protocols for the novel coronavirus and wearing a mask with visitors at his home when the video was shot on Dec. 26.
Mack said it was not his decision if he deserved punishment for that.
“As I said, I made an error,” Mack said. “It's not like I invited everybody over for a big party at the house. I'm a big boy. Whatever comes my way, comes my way.”
The context, as former UK assistant coach Kenny Payne explained to WDRB News on Sunday, was a private joke between friends that went "sideways," according to Mack.
Mack said that on the evening of Dec. 26, after Louisville defeated Kentucky, 62-59, at the KFC Yum! Center, he had a small Christmas gathering at his home. The gathering included at least two neighbors, former U of L football player Eric Wood and Troy Hanke, a local businessmen.
Wood and Hanke are also friends and golfing partners of Payne’s, a former U of L basketball player who coached at UK for 10 seasons. Mack appeared in a video with Wood in which they claimed Calipari’s long-running dominance of Louisville basketball had ended with Payne’s departure to the New York Knicks.
They shared the video with Payne. It remained private until Saturday night when Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio shared it on Twitter. It quickly went viral, drawing more than 278,000 views as of 3 p.m. Monday.
"The first thing I really thought of was Calipari," Mack said. "I didn't want him to think it was some shot that was directed out to the world wide web and that I was trying to send a message to him.
"So he was the first person I called when I was aware of the video yesterday morning. I just wanted to be able to clear the air and tell him the great respect I have for him, his program and the great job he's done.
"And that's how I feel. I wanted him to know it was a joke at Kenny Payne that obviously went sideways. As I tell my players, when you do things that happen in the spotlight, you've got to own it, and I own things. So I live and learn by it and will move forward. If I offended anybody, I feel bad for doing that but that wasn't what the intention was by any means. But that's neither here nor there."
Mack said the video was simply a joke between friends, which was the same explanation Payne provided Sunday.
"It was a private video," Mack said. "Obviously it's not private today. That's why I'm talking to you guys ... how it got out, I have no idea."
On Sunday, Payne said that he also did not have an explanation for who shared the video.
Mack said that Calipari also gave him several words of advice, “that I’ll just keep between us.”
Considering the Louisville basketball program has endured multiple pauses because of COVID-19, including a 19-day stoppage that ended last Saturday, Mack has drawn criticism for having a gathering at his home. Neither Mack nor Wood wore a mask during the 33-second video.
"I have great respect for (COVID)," Mack said. "We've had to do everything under the sun, eating in our own rooms at hotels to wearing masks, conducting film sessions on the court rather than the film room, just like everybody else has had to sacrifice.
"Now I'll say this, when people come over to my house, which hasn't been very often since last March, I'm probably a violator and obviously was that night neighbors and friends stop by in not putting the mask on around my house. Not a good look, so for that I've got to do better."
Mack tested positive for the virus on Feb. 6 and returned to the team last week, coaching his first game back Saturday evening at North Carolina.
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