Kentucky coach John Calipari is on the verge of winning his first national championship and gaining the ability to finally silence his many critics.
Calipari has gone to four Final Fours -- two if you pretend the vacated ones never happened -- but has never been able to get over the hump and win a national championship. His best opportunity came in 2008 when his Memphis team came extremely close to winning a title before withering late in the title game against Bill Self's Kansas team.
The Kentucky coach gets his chance at revenge on Monday night against Self and is expected by many to win. Calipari has assembled a roster chock full of future NBA stars, especially freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Calipari is likely zoned in on finally cutting down the nets after a national championship victory, but some around him have already begun to speculate that a win on Monday night in New Orleans could encourage him to take another shot at coaching in the NBA.
He has already had one failed stint with the New Jersey Nets in the 1990s, but those around him continue to espouse that he could be interested in Round Two of the NBA if his Wildcats win a title.
Calipari denied interest in coaching in the NBA after the Knicks dumped coach Mike D'Antoni in mid-March. He tweeted out, unprovoked, that he had the best job in the country and didn't plan on going anywhere, but one of his past star players thinks he might make the jump.
That was his dream job to coach at Kentucky, so I think he's excited where he's at, former Kentucky star John Wall told the Washington Post. It's all up to him to see what he's going to do, but I think if he wins a championship, it's probably a 50-50 chance, whatever he wants to do. I think he likes the college scene, but we'll have to wait and see.
The one job that could interest Calipari the most is the Knicks job currently held down by interim coach Mike Woodson, but there could be more than a few open jobs that'd pique his interest. The Washington Wizards will be in the market for a new head coach this off-season and already have Wall plus a high first round draft pick that could land them either Davis or Kidd-Gilchrist.
The New York Post's Peter Vecsey wrote this weekend that in addition to the Wizards job, Portland, Charlotte, Orlando, and Los Angeles should all have open jobs by the end of the season. ESPN's Jay Bilas mentioned that if Kentucky wins he wouldn't be shocked to see Calipari jump to the NBA, especially if he can get a clause in his contract for partial ownership of a team.
Calipari gets criticized frequently for building his teams off of one-and-done college players, but it has aptly prepared him for another stint in the NBA. He is used to managing big egos and getting these players to compete at a high level on a night in, night out basis.
It could ultimately come down to two factors: whether he thinks he has accomplished everything he can on the college level and whether he is willing to give up a great situation for an unsure one.
Calipari is already king of Lexington and would be in legend status if he guides Kentucky to a championship on Monday night. If he jumps to the Wizards or some other team in the NBA, it's doubtful that he will be revered in the way that the fanatic Wildcat fan base feels about him.
It also depends on whether one national championship is enough to push Calipari to challenge himself in the NBA. Calipari could have dreams of winning multiple titles and cement himself as one of the game's all-time best; or he could still look back on his time in the NBA with regret and want one more chance.
It's impossible to know for sure exactly what Calipari wants, but if he finally cuts down those nets on Monday, get ready for the NBA rumors to hype up to overdrive.