Just in case you were living off the grid over the weekend, Kentuck, after winning 38 straight games, fell to Wisconsin in the Final Four night cap on Saturday. While the game will forever be remembered by basketball fans, it's what transpired after the game that leaves the biggest lesson to be learned.
Before we get to that though, let me take a moment to set the stage; all year long everyone and their mother heard about how talented Kentucky was, how they were the unquestioned Kings of college basketball all season long, and how their current lineup could probably compete for an NBA title. Not to mention they were two games away from being an elusive 40-0, and the last team to go through the entire season undefeated was Bobby Knight's 1976-76 Indiana Hoosiers squad that went 32-0.
But Wisconsin pulled off the improbable upset, spoiling that dream of an undefeated season, and ensuring that a national title would not be making its way back to Lexington, at least for another year.
Immediately following the final buzzer, a handful of very disappointed 18-22 year old Wildcat players made their way back to the locker room instead of meeting at half court for the customary "good game" hand shake. Instead of letting some of their star players get away with it, a few members of Calipari's staff went back into the locker room, and ensured that they made their way back out to the court to congratulate the Wisconsin players and coaches.
Why? Because it's the right thing to do, and believe it or not, some lessons are bigger than games or titles. Below is the clip of players exiting the floor immediately after the game.
Then came the unfortunate incident at the post game presser that we've all heard about, where Frank Kaminisky received a phone call and an apology afterward regarding the comment. Was coach Cal or his staff directly responsible for that call? I'm not sure, but I know where my money would go if I were a betting man. Again, as incredibly uncomfortable as it may be, it's the right thing to do.
Cal gets a lot of credit for his recruiting prowess and coaching acumen, but not enough love for stuff like this. In the midst of seeing a historic season crumble, he (or perhaps more accurately, his staff) was still able to see the big picture, and use a few mistakes made by a handful of emotional college-aged kids as teaching moments that they're going to always remember.
A lot of coaches would have been too caught up in the monumental moment, but Cal and his staff saw the importance and the lessons that the situations presented. For that, I tip my hat.