Last weekend University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino laughingly disregarded the notion of an NBA team coming to Louisville. He said that tickets are too expensive, that David Stern doesn’t want a team in Louisville and that the mere idea was simply “wacky”. I’m not sure where Pitino is getting his facts, but Stern was heavily involved in Louisville’s earlier push for the Rockets, Grizzlies and Hornets.
In Lexington, University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari had nothing but good things to say about having an NBA in Louisville. Remember, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis while he was the head coach at the University of Memphis. So €he has some experience in this area.
“We sold more tickets and raised more dollars” than before the Grizzlies moved to town, he said. The presence of Grizzlies made Memphis fans and boosters feel obliged to show even stronger support for the school, Calipari said.
He also said that having an NBA team can help recruiting.
“The recruiting for Louisville will go up because there will be pro scouts in there every day,” Calipari said. “That’s what happened to us in Memphis, every day, because they’re going in to see the pro team that night. Where do they go that afternoon? They go to the gym to see the college players.”
On the notion that an NBA team will take away fans from U of L and UK.
“It will never take away from the University of Kentucky, never, ever,” he said. “It will never take dollars away, it will never take seats away.”
“This state is driven by the city of Louisville,” Calipari said. “Anything that’s good for the city of Louisville is good for our state. I believe [the NBA] is good for the city of Louisville, which makes our state even better. I don’t think there’s any downside.”
He even mentioned the idea of the team playing in Lexington’s new arena that he expects to get in three or four years when his buddy, LeBron James, comes to town.
Calipari gets it. He sees the big picture.