As Kentucky Squirms, Calipari Deals With Mom's Cancer, Donates $1 Million

I feel like I've written thousands of words about John Calipari, basketball coach, here, and that makes sense to me. His Kentucky Wildcats were the story of the 2009-10 college basketball season, with John Wall et al. tearing things up on the court to the delight of many and the Elite Eight flameout dismaying many of those same people. And it hasn't quit, either, with the Eric Bledsoe kerfuffle bringing out the knives in the media. But John Calipari, guy who coaches basketball, is what fascinates me.

Even when what Calipari's doing has nothing to do with basketball—and when he, like Bledsoe, is no-commenting the stuff that is relevant to roundball—his life can't help but be interesting. Perhaps that's Cal's curse: a life in the klieg lights, even when he might not want it.

He's certainly got the support of many when it comes to his mother's battle with cancer. While that could add wrinkles to Cal's own professional choices this summer, I hope that, for now, the hopes and thoughts Cal is tweeting about keep flowing, and that she recovers.

It would be easy to make Calipari into a sympathetic figure because of his mother's illness and his own generosity. The $1 million donation he made to a Memphis children's organization this week will likely do more to help people than any of his alleged malfeasance in the basketball world has hurt people. It helps, too, that Cal seems like a charismatic, friendly person, the guy you crack jokes with at the end of the bar, except for his stylish suits and coaching acumen.

But it's that role as coach that makes Calipari a lightning rod for criticism and an endlessly scrutinized figure; that career, pockmarked with shadiness, makes him a cipher. And with the NCAA investigation into Bledsoe's eligibility still ongoing and much of his future in flux, it's likely that Coach Cal's summer will be even more eventful than his season was.

John Calipari's doing things, too, though. It's the combination of the two halves of Calipari into one story that makes him so fascinating, and will make him one of the dominant sports stories of this summer.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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