Props From The PrezPosted by jstevrtc on January 26th, 2010
A few hours before their game at South Carolina this evening — you’re sure to see a clip of this on ESPN’s coverage and probably on SportsCenter — John Calipari and his Kentucky team were summoned to the phone for a call from a fairly famous fan of college basketball — President Barack Obama. The call was one of gratitude to Calipari and his boys as a result of their efforts in helping to raise over a million dollars in aid money (that dinner with Ashley Judd at Calipari’s house going for a hundred grand didn’t hurt) through Calipari’s Hoops For Haiti initiative.
I spent my college years like a great number of people who are fortunate enough to get to go at all. You know, organizing my schedule so I didn’t have to get up before 2 PM, eating a lot of pizza, hitting on co-eds, doing the Greek thing, maximizing my time in pubs and on golf courses, that kind of thing. And that’s when I wasn’t watching college basketball, or tapes (yes, freaking VHS tapes) of games in the off-season. One thing I wasn’t doing was taking calls from the President and joking with him about how we needed to play horse or how I’d hopefully get to chill with him in the summer. Of course, I wasn’t raising over a million bucks for natural disasters with a group of my friends, either, so there we are. Despite their status as BMOCs on the Lexington campus — and pretty much the rest of the state save for small parts of Louisville — even that can’t compare with conversations with world leaders, especially when they’re giving you some serious props. You can see some nerves on the part of the players, and definitely from John Calipari.
Our favorite moment was when Calipari has to settle them down a little, and tells them to “stop…” — whatever that meant. We liked John Wall’s invitation to play a game of horse, and it’s obvious Wall dug the fact that the President called him “All-Star” and upped the invitation to a full scrimmage, though we wonder where that one would take place (Kentucky was not just the first state to go red on election night, it was the first state to be called by the pundits). You have to give credit, too, to DeMarcus Cousins‘ line about how the team was looking forward to meeting him after the season — that is, after winning a championship (though some tournament time bulletin boards might see that one). We were hoping the President would needle Cousins a little and make reference to the video of DeMarcus’ turn at babysitting as seen here, but alas, it was not to be. But with all the talk you hear about Wall and Cousins regarding the possible fates of the Kentucky squad, one very important insight to this team is evident in the video. Look who gets to sit down. Check out which player gets first crack at the phone and the chance to talk to the Prez…
Yep — Patrick Patterson. Keep in mind, Patterson’s a junior, not a senior. He doesn’t lead the team in scoring. We know where Wall is projected in the 2010 NBA Draft (that’d be first) and Cousins could even go before Patterson, as well (right now, Cousins is projected at eighth, right behind Patterson). But this team knows who their leader is. Or at least John Calipari knows. Wall and Cousins are spectacular talents and the surrounding cast on this team contains some excellent players, to say the least. But it’s the play of Patrick Patterson that will determine how far Kentucky goes in the dance, and how long that zero stays in the loss column. We can get into that later. Right now, though, no matter your political leanings or basketball alliances, just like the North Carolina players who got to play ball with him, you’ve got to be happy for these guys — not only for getting some gratitude from the President of the United States and a chance to have a conversation with him, but also for the reason for this call — the fact that they assisted in the raising of over a million bucks for a country in shambles, a country that was in pretty rough shape even before it was smacked around by a gigantic earthquake and accompanying aftershocks.