ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Kentucky coach John Calipari refused to “dignify that stuff” when he was asked after Monday night’s championship game about his rumored interest in coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.
The rumors were floated by former Kentucky star Rex Chapman on Twitter shortly before the Wildcat’s 60-54 loss to Connecticut at AT&T Stadium. He called Calipari’s departure a “done deal.”
“The Lakers have a basketball coach,” Calipari said, referring to coach Mike D’Antoni, whose team is fighting to stay out of last place in the Western Conference.
“Kentucky has a basketball coach,” Calipari added. “I have the best job in the country.”
The Lakers have also denied having any conversations with Calipari, who spent two forgettable years coaching the New Jersey Nets before he was fired 20 games into his third season.
He also served as an assistant under Larry Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart told a small group of reporters Monday night that he had heard about the tweet from Chapman, who played for the Wildcats from 1986-88 and later in the NBA. But Barnhart said that he had “no real reaction.”
“I’ve been in this thing long enough, not a lot sort of fazes me in terms of that sort of stuff,” Barnhart said. “You go day-to-day with people and you trust what they do. I’ve been with Cal five years now. I think I know him fairly well, and if there’s anything I need to be concerned about, we’d have those conversations. And we haven’t had those conversations.”
Barnhart said that Calipari has been focused solely on the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison, two of several Wildcats who will soon decide on their own futures in the NBA, said they had not heard about the Lakers rumors.
“We don’t let that affect us,” Andrew Harrison said. “People are always going to have rumors about this team and people are always saying stuff, but it doesn’t really affect us.”
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.