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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
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
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
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
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
CigarBoy: When you and the coach are not involved in
basketball, what do you all do with your time?
Ellen: When heís around?
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
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.
CigarBoy: Calís Steakhouse, of courseÖ..silly me! Let me
get back to basketball. What do you see the team doing this
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
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
CigarBoy: Did the deal that he ended up getting here what
you wanted? Was it what you thought both of you would end up
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
Ellen: Youíre welcome (laughing).
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