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CigarBoy Interviews Ellen Calipari

Memphis Basketball

by Cigarboy

September, 2003

Back to CB's Interview with John Calipari

CigarBoy: Youíve been sitting in the stands for many years now watching John coach and win a lot of games. Whatís the hardest thing about sitting in the stands and watching your husband coach?

Ellen: Thatís a good question. I donít know? As I sit there it is just wanting the team to do well and wanting to get them to get the win because I know how much theyíve put into it. Probably wanting to make sure the players are keeping up with their schoolwork. And wanting them to get that satisfaction that they are working for it which will result in wins.

CigarBoy: When you are sitting in the stands for a home game, be it at U-Mass or New Jersey or here in Memphis, and fans criticize your husband, what goes through your mind and have you ever said anything?

Ellen: No, Iíve never said anything because Iím very quiet and very reserved. Actually if they say something about him itís only to make fun of his antics on the sideline which you canít deny. He can get real out of control. The things that really grate on me I think are the things we hear about the players. Because itís like your family and you take it personally. You donít like to hear anything like ďwhy canít they get a free throwĒ, or ďwhy canít they do thisÖĒ, because theyíre really just kids. You know how young they are and how hard they are working.

CigarBoy: Whatís different about Memphis from Springfield, Mass?

Ellen: I really donít know. Let me thinkÖÖ.we were at U-Mass long enough that the people were friendly there. Weíd won enough games. People knew who we were. Here, I guess itís bigger. Not as many people know who we are yet, which is OK with me. But the people are friendly here. You hate to say friendlier, but I think in New England they had enough transplants. But I grew up in Missouri, about 6 hours from here, and it feels more like home to me in Memphis for some reason.

CigarBoy: In your travels as a basketball wife, what cities do you like to visit? Which ones are more fun and which ones are more of a drag?

Ellen: You know, Iím not a city person at all. I grew up in a very small town, very rural. I donít travel a lot with the team unless they go to the NCAA tournament so Iím not impressed with traveling. Going to New York is fun, but Iíd rather stay home. (laugh)

CigarBoy: When you and the coach are not involved in basketball, what do you all do with your time?

Ellen: When heís around?

CigarBoy: Yeah.

Ellen: Probably mostly kid stuff. When heís around, heís usually making an effort to be around. To go to either my daughterís game or my sonís practice. Trying to get in that family time. Thereís not a lot of down time. Otherwise just hanging out around the house. We donít go out to eat a lot. We donít go out in public a lot. We donít socialize or party a lot. We keep to ourselves.

CigarBoy: I interviewed a guy three months ago, named Bruiser Flint, supposedly a good dresser. What can you tell me about Bruiser Flint?

Ellen: You know, I only know people as people - not by their coaching capabilities or anything. He is the nicest guy. My kids love him. He was so good to my kids. He used to be a cheek pincher and we just think heís a great guy and a great person. We hope he does well at Drexel.

CigarBoy: Now this is a big one. Can you give me some dirt on Ed Schilling?

Ellen: Nooooo! He is too good of a guy.

CigarBoy: (Laughing) Can you just spill a little on him?

Ellen: Nah, Edís a pretty quiet guy, hard worker, and a thinker. Heís just a good guy. A good family guy. Heís too good of a guy. John would have a story. Heís got a story on everybody.

CigarBoy: Oh yeah. Iíve heard some fun stories about him too. When Iím in Memphis and Iíve got some down time, where should I go out to eat? Whatís your favorite restaurant?

Ellen: Well you have to go to Calís Steakhouse. (chuckling)

CigarBoy: Calís Steakhouse, of courseÖ..silly me! Let me get back to basketball. What do you see the team doing this year?

Ellen: I am just hoping they do well. I hope they improve everyday. Iím not really knowledgeable in the sport of basketball. I know that John can get the job done. I have that confidence in them. I think in the end theyíll do well. He sees them doing better game to game and I just hope it continues.

CigarBoy: Let me ask you a little tougher question. When you left the Nets, were you glad it was over?

Ellen: Yes! Ah, well, I wonít say too much as not to say anything negative. But all that he went through, it really upset us because we knew he was really trying hard and we knew that he felt like he was getting it done. I think he was fine, but in the NBA, a lot of things are out of your control. Things had gotten to a point where he felt like his job was in jeopardy but he was being reassured it wasnít. So, then you almost get blind-sided. He knew something was going to happen although they wouldnít admit to it. So it was, for him, a great relief when it was over.

CigarBoy: One question you may have some insight on. When your husband was, looking at Georgia Tech, and Memphis, as new coaching opportunities. What was going through your mind, as heís an assistant in Philadelphia looking at other jobs?

Ellen: Well, I knew that assistant coaching in the NBA was temporary for him. I knew heíd be head coaching someplace, NBA or college. We were really looking forward to going back to college again. Itís much more fun. The family is much more involved in it. With the NBA itís more of a business. You donít really have relationships with players or management or anybody.

CigarBoy: Did the deal that he ended up getting here what you wanted? Was it what you thought both of you would end up with?

Ellen: You know, he had been out of it long enough that he didnít even know what his marketability would be as far as that goes. He came here and what he saw was the commitment of the city and I think he talked to enough business people that knew he could accomplish what he needed to here. It wasnít really about contracts or anything like that. For me, I looked at it geographically. Iím getting closer to home every time we moveÖÖ. so go, yea!

CigarBoy: Well thank you very much for your time. Enjoy the cigar!

 

Ellen: Youíre welcome (laughing).

 

Back to CB's Interview with John Calipari

 


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