John Calipari Says He'd 'Love' to Coach LeBron James One Day

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2014

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats motions to his players during the NCAA Men's Final Four Championship against the Connecticut Huskies at AT&T Stadium on April 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

John Calipari isn't going to abandon Kentucky for the NBA, so stop asking.

Unless you have LeBron James.

Coach Cal hasn't chaperoned an NBA team since 1999, when he was with the then-New Jersey Nets, but he told The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer he would "absolutely" return if it meant syncing up with James:

Are you kidding me? Have a chance to coach the best player in the world? Yes, I would love to coach him. But what's happened is our careers are criss-crossing without crossing.

I'm not in a position where I would leave Kentucky right now. I'm not sure whether this is his last contract, or his next-to-last contract. But I would tell you if I had a chance to, I would absolutely.

For the record, this isn't out of the blue. Boyer reminds us that Calipari and James are "close friends."

In 2010, when James was a free agent, the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson alleged that "NBA power broker William Wesley" continued to "work back channels to sell John Calipari and James as a package deal" to teams that were in need of a head coach and had cap space. So the two have a history.

Do they have a future together?

Probably not. 

LeBron and Coach Cal would make for quite the player-coach duo.
LeBron and Coach Cal would make for quite the player-coach duo.Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Though Calipari is repeatedly linked to NBA head coaching vacancies, he continues to reiterate that he has no intention of leaving the Wildcats, whom he coached to the NCAA national title game this past year.

Boyer says the Cleveland Cavaliers will always entertain the idea of employing Calipari, and's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne recently reported the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in his services as well, but it won't matter. Calipari isn't leaving Kentucky unless he can coach James. Neither Cleveland nor Los Angeles has James.

If James ever leaves the Miami Heat, this pairing becomes a slight possibility. But while he can explore free agency this summer, he isn't deserting Miami. Not now. Not when he will have a chance to win a fourth straight title next season, or his third in five years.

Walking out on Kentucky isn't an option for Coach Cal at this point either, as Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley explained:

The fact that an NBA coaching opening wouldn't move Calipari's needle is entirely predictable. He guided the then-New Jersey Nets to a 72-112 mark during a two-plus season stint in the late 1990s and has since built a perennial power in Lexington.

His Wildcats suffered a six-point loss to Ollie's Huskies in the 2014 national championship and have once again reloaded their ranks for the 2014-15 campaign. Not only did Kentucky land three of's 24 five-star recruits (center Karl-Anthony Towns, forward Trey Lyles and guard Tyler Ulis), it also received a lift from the return of potential first-round picks Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and the Harrison twins (Andrew and Aaron).

Despite his open desire to coach James, Calipari himself falls on the pessimistic side of this fence too.

"Yes, I would love to coach him," Coach Cal told Boyer. "But early in his career I said maybe that would happen [sic] happen some day, but as we both get older it doesn't appear that it will happen."

Don't give up hope yet, Cleveland, Los Angeles or Vojvodina Srbijagas of the Basketball League of Serbia. James is only 29. He has plenty of basketball left in him.

There is still time for him to relocate to a city and team that is ready to make this dream scenario a reality.