Because Pitino and Calipari really don't like each other, or else they're genius showmen (why basketball is just better in Kentucky) [Louisville Magazine]

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This article appears in the December 2011 issue of LouisvilleMagazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com. **use this link https://www.loumag.com/subscribe.aspx

What matters is that it hasn’t stopped. Thank goodness. These guys make off-season bearable, not to mention entertaining.

The latest punch and counterpunch happened this fall when Calipari played the ol’ one-team, one-state card, as if Pitino’s Cardinals had decamped from Louisville to, say, New Albany, Ind. “There’s no other state, none, that’s as connected to their basketball program as this one,” Calipari said. “Because those other states have other programs. Michigan has Michigan State, California has UCLA, North Carolina has Duke. It’s Kentucky throughout the whole state, and that’s what makes us unique.”

Pitino ignored the jab . . . for almost a week. Then, ka-POW!

“Four things I’ve learned in my 59 years about people,” Pitino told CBSSports.com. “I ignore the jealous. I ignore the malicious. I ignore the ignorant. And I ignore the paranoid. If the shoe fits anyone, wear it.” Have you ever seen anything like it?

Well, yeah. And right here in River City, when Denny Crum arrived from UCLA in 1972, taking over the Louisville basketball program and taking dead aim at Big Blue. Among other things, Crum didn’t appreciate the policy of UK and its coach, Joe B. Hall, not to play other in-state schools — a policy that stood until the NCAA forced the issue in the 1983 tournament. “At the time, Joe was following Adolph Rupp, and Rupp’s tradition was you didn’t recognize anybody else in the state,” Crum says now. “But once we started playing, Joe saw the value in it.”

Then what is Calipari’s excuse? The Cards and Wildcats have been playing annually for almost 30 years now, and he’s won the last two.

“I’ve never asked either one about (the feud),” Crum says, “and I know both men. But I know there’s been some jabbing back and forth. I don’t think it’s a big deal. In a rivalry, things get said.”

Besides, he admits with a laugh, it’s not bad publicity.

Crum had returned a call not long after leaving his daily radio show with, yes, Joe B. Hall. It’s called The Joe B. and Denny Show, and it’s been running for seven years now on WKRD-AM 790. The coaches never seem at a loss for things to talk about. (Crum says, “We don’t talk about politics or sex but most everything else.”)

Say, you don’t think . . . maybe in a few years . . . after enough polluted water flows under the bridge. You could call it The Rick P. and Johnny Show!

Caller, you’re on the air.

 

Photos: Courtesy Suki Anderson

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