Memphis announces it plans to honor former coach John Calipari

Memphis announced Wednesday it plans to honor John Calipari. (USATSI)

Kentucky’s John Calipari tweeted Wednesday night that he appreciates Memphis “deciding to honor” what he was “able to accomplish” — just a few hours after Memphis president Dr. David Rudd announced the school will celebrate its former coach in December.

“UMass gave me my first opportunity and Memphis revived my career,” Calipari tweeted. “I have a special place in my heart for both Amherst and Memphis.”

(UMass had previously announced it will retire a jersey in Calipari’s honor this season.)

Calipari spent nine seasons at Memphis (after being fired by the NBA’s Nets) and is the best coach in school history, regardless of sport, according to any objective observer. Still, Rudd’s announcement was widely criticized by Memphis supporters because a significant portion of the fan base is still bitter about Calipari leaving in the middle of an NCAA investigation that led to a vacated Final Four, and how he took recruits with him to UK.

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Rudd stayed active on Twitter on Wednesday night and assured fans he’s listening to their reservations. Either way, it’s tough to imagine the school pulling back after Calipari publicly acknowledged the event. So Dec. 29 — the presumed date of what Rudd initially predicted will be a “great homecoming” — should be interesting at FedExForum, for better or worse.

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