John Calipari is a rambler and a gambler—a smooth talker and a straight shooter. He's a sugar-tongued schmoozer with a gift for spin rivaled only by history's greatest political figures, with whom, according to his latest yarn, he sometimes plays golf. Last week, Calipari, better known by his alter-ego Coach Cal, met with reporters to begin the annual build up to Kentucky basketball season, but soon the conversation turned to a more important topic: A recent round of golf with former president Barack Obama.
“I met a guy. We talked and he was a big basketball fan and a big fan of mine,” Calipari began. “He said he was friends with President Obama and I said, ‘Wow, that’s something.’ He said, ‘If you ever want to golf with him…’ I’m shameless. You don’t say that to me.”
Soon after, Calipari was in Boston on vacation and called in a favor to his guy.
“I said, ‘Is he [Barack Obama] still at Martha’s Vineyard? Can I [see him]?’ He calls me and he said, ‘Next Friday the president wants to play with you.”
Boom, Cal was in.
For much of the remaining press conference, Calipari regaled the room with the story of his once-in-a-lifetime outing so packed with anecdotes and pithy goodness, that we could have pulled five stories from it, let alone one. If you don't believe us, just check out these scrapped headlines we could have rolled with instead:
Coach Cal was so nervous for his round with President Obama he nearly asphyxiated
“I didn’t sleep the night before," he told reporters, laying it on pretty thick. "It was like we were in the national championship game. I did not sleep. And now, I haven’t started breathing yet, so I have a little blue tint to me.”
Coach Cal endured a three-day golf bootcamp to prepare for a round with Barack Obama
After getting the invite, Calipari immediately realized he hadn't played a full 18 since his hip surgery five years ago. In a panic, he had his clubs shipped to him in Boston and hired a pro for a three-day crash-course to prepare. Did the last-second cramming help him?
“After the first day, he [Cal's instructor] said, ‘You’re probably right. Let’s put the driver in the bag and let’s just hit the three wood to see if you can get it up.’”
We'll take that as a no.
Coach Cal says golf is like running from a bear, you only have to be better than the worst guy in your group
"The great thing is, the fourth player was worse than me, so I’m good. So, it would be like if you or I were chased by a bear. I’ve just got to outrun you. So, I’m looking at him, and the other guy’s like a four handicap, so I’m thinking I’m good. If you’re this, I’ve just got to beat you."
John Calipari nearly killed a secret service agent hiding in the woods with a shank
“I stand over the ball and I hear rustling. Like, what? And again, we had two [Secret Service people] out in front of us, two behind us, two beside us, and I later learn we have two in the woods because I hit one and they said, ‘Fore!’ and I’m like, saying fore, why are you saying fore? And I see a guy scurry out of the woods."
President Obama and Coach Cal square off over sandbagging allegations during handicap etiquette summit
"But I’m on the first tee and I look back and there are all these people on the deck and they’re taking video of me taking this [swing]. And I haven’t breathed yet, I haven’t played in five years, and I’ve got to hit this ball."
30 yard duck hook. Has to be.
“HELL NO, 220 DOWN THE MIDDLE! The President said, ‘You’re not a 20 handicap! I’ll be a 20 handicap.'”
Coach Cal says Barack Obama's hips don't lie
“So, I get there – and he looks unbelievable, by the way. He looks like he’s 35 years old — and he’s a good golfer. And I’m watching him swing and hit balls and I’m like, ugh. I asked him, ‘How in the world, what are you doing? Are your hips not bad, your knees not bad?’ And when I looked at him, I had to ask him, ‘How old are you?’ How old do you think he is? He’s 59. I thought he was like, 51. He’s 59.”
The measure of a man is golf not politics, says Coach Cal
“It was fun. Glad I did it and if it aggravated anybody, very good. I’m happy about that. I’d like to play with George W. [Bush]. I’ve been with President Clinton."
And what of the most infamous golfing president of them all, Donald Trump?
“I may do it next year. This year, the summer’s over now.”
Needless to say, it might finally be time to add Coach Cal to our list of golf's reigning Content Kings.