John Calipari admits this was “probably not a real good time” for his players to have decided to kneel during anthem

John Calipari, right, knelt with his players before the game at Florida. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Just as he did on his weekly radio show Monday night, Kentucky coach John Calipari tried to explain after Tuesday’s 85-65 home loss to Alabama that his players meant no offense to current military members or veterans when they knelt during the national anthem before the win at Florida.

“This had nothing to do with the military. They saw all this stuff going on and felt they needed to do something,” Calipari said.

The protest was accepted by some UK fans but harshly criticized by other fans. The players said they expected some reaction but probably did not know just how big a backlash there was going to be.

“These kids are good kids. They’ve got good hearts. Again, this political time, probably not a real good time to do it,” Calipari said. “But when they came in, we really feel strongly, we want you to kneel with us. I put my hand on my heart even though I did kneel.

“I have friends in the military, friends in the police. This is our country right now. Anything that’s done you’re either for something, for a party or against a party. That’s not who they are. I like to think their civic duty of voting, they all did. I don’t know how many of you voted when you were 18 or 19. I didn’t. They have.

“Their statement was peaceful. It was a peaceful statement. Hopefully going forward we’re going to figure out and help them have some actions that are not in front of the public, that are not in front of the TV, but things they can do to bring people together or make a difference.

So did he think it was a mistake for the team and coaches to kneel

“I am not saying that,” Calipari said in response to that question from Jon Hale of The Courier-Journal. “That’s what they wanted to do. The timing of it, with all that’s going on right now, they felt the timing was right because of what they’re seeing on TV. Now they’re like, OK.”

23 thoughts on “John Calipari admits this was “probably not a real good time” for his players to have decided to kneel during anthem

  1. Jim

    Since 1/20/17 this country has become a joke and disgrace. When you have hundreds of the top brass in the military saying our current president is the worst ever, I don’t see what the problem is with kneeling for injustice. Trump has disgraced the flag worse than any kid has. Alienating our allies and cozying up to our enemies. I haven’t heard one kid say anything bad about the military. I have heard Trump say all kinds of derogatory comments. He don’t like soldiers who get captured, why do they serve there is nothing in it for them. He is the one that dodged the draft because his father had the money to pay off a doctor to lie. You all back him and then want to whine about some kids kneeling. Not destroying property or causing chaos, just kneeling. It’s hard to believe that one man ( along with all his criminal cronies) could tear our country apart in 4 yrs. I don’t always agree with Cal, but he has done alot of good for this state. His kids has also. Most of you claim not to be racist, but you sure smell like you are. Don’t claim to be all about patriotism when your riding with a traitor.

  2. Steven Francies

    If players had spent more time practicing for upcoming games, instead of concentrating on protest we may have won more games.

  3. Drew Young

    It’s time for calipari to leave. He has officially killed the program. I never liked the one and done teams anyway. Kentucky is better than this trash stirring up drama and this basketball program might just never be the same. I know I’ll NEVER spend another dime supporting UK.

  4. Ray Burdine

    I think it’s time for a caliper to go ,this is not Kentucky basketball. this might be the
    The worst team that I saw at Kentucky in the last 40+ years, and when they kneeled for the national anthem and the flag I will no longer watch them or support them !!!!

  5. Sam

    Hey Coach…..there is NEVER a good time to be disrespectful to our country’s National Anthem or flag. Just staying in the locker room when the National Anthem plays tells us how the team really feels….it wasn’t just about what they saw recently on TV at the capital,…..they have showed disrespect every time they refused to be in the arena when the National Anthem is played. We all know that…..quit making up excuses.

  6. Code3

    My son is in his freshman year at UK. I’m paying his tuition. As someone with actual skin in the game (not just someone who is a fan because they live in the area), I speak from my heart when I say that this gesture was useless, empty virtue signalling, and coach Cal is a coward for not only allowing his players to do this, but for joining them in bowing down to PC culture. Cal has brought shame upon himself, his team, and the University of Kentucky. I hope the Cats lose every remaining game they play under him.

  7. Zappa

    Kneeling is a sign of respect. That is why Nate Boyer, a Green Beret came to the conclusion that that was the gesture to use. He recommended that to Kaepernick. It was a way to display your love without standing and saluting. Kneeling has ALWAYS been a sign of respect. That is what you did when in the presence of royalty, when you pray to God, I even did it when I asked for my wife’s hand in marriage! If you believe in Christ then you will find that Jesus kneels as part of the suffering and struggle he endures at Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion. So kneeling to draw attention to those suffering from injustice has a pretty strong background. And you guys don’t seem to mind crucifying these kids for their actions from what I am reading! So how did it become a sign of disrespect? You are not going to like hearing this… Donald Trump and the Russians. Trump rally in Huntsville Alabama, Trump uses it to stir up his crowd, saying “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired, he’s fired!” Then came the Russian bots… A Clemson University research paper found some 12,000 tweets on the subject linked to 491 accounts linked to Russia’s internet research Agency were sent from the end of 2014 to mid-2018 peaking after Trump’s speech. US Senator James Lankford of OK said the Russian trolls were seeking to polarize Americans, helped fuel online discord… it worked didn’t it? Look how much grief you are giving these kids! If you are military and making an issue of this, how do you feel about the fact that you are just being manipulated by the Kremlin to do so! I think these kids should kneel every game if they want to. I am a UK grad and a true UK basketball fan. The game I watched them play after their kneeling was the best I have seen them play! So as far as I am concerned, I hope they kneel every game and bing home a championship. As for my fellow fans who won’t watch another game over this… I just shake my head at your absurd behavior and wonder if you realize some Russian is raising his shot glass of vodka and laughing his ass off that you fell for it… hook, line, and sinker!!! Maybe you should give up bourbon and start drinking vodka. I will be drinking my bourbon and cheering these kids on! Go Cats!

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      That was way TLDR, except 1 thing. If kneeling during the anthem is a sign of respect, why did Kaep torpedo the Nike Betsy Ross flag shoes? The question answers itself.

      • Zappa

        Actually it does not. Unless you like to use innuendo to misinform people. Maybe you are pushing your own racist agenda or maybe you just don’t know much about what you are referring to. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and since you like my brief style of writing, I will attempt to enlighten you.
        Kaepernick was brought into Nike and part of his position involves marketing. A couple of years ago a product that was planned to be released for Independence Day was a shoe featuring a 13 star Betsy Ross flag on the heel. Unfortunately unbeknown to Nike, a hate group was using that version of the flag as one of its symbols.
        In 2016, the superintendent of a Michigan school district apologized after students waved the Betsy Ross flag at a high-school football game, saying that for some it is a symbol of white supremacy and nationalism, according to, a local news outlet. While the flag’s use isn’t widespread, the local chapter of the NAACP said at the time that it has been appropriated by some extremist groups opposed to America’s increasing diversity.
        When Kaepernick became aware of the shoe via on line images he advised the company not to release it because of its potential for making Nike appear to have a relationship with the hate group. Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson compared wearing the Betsy Ross American flag to wearing a swastika, and equated Nike’s decision to put it on a shoe to celebrating the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses. Unfortunately the shoes were already in the process of being shipped to stores and required Nike issuing a recall, which they did without offering explanation as to why. Political opportunists who already were using Kaepernick as a symbol for stirring up patriotism inspired race baiting, jumped on the issue like Gettelfinger and made it out to be a “see! Kaepernick hates our flag!!” kind of gotcha moment. For example Arizona’s Republican Governor generated publicity by grandstanding on the issue by pulling out of a deal for a Nike factory (New Mexico’s Governor quickly jumped in to woo Nike to her state… )
        Does that give you a little better understanding?

  8. John M Rees

    They can say it’s not about the military then fine.. What is it about then? Our National ANTHEM is sacred. It shows that we are one. When you kneel, you’re saying we’re not one. It’s not as much who we are,it’s theideals about who we strive to be. Basically, theytook a dump on our country. I blame the adults in the room who should explain this to thekids. But I guess $ calls. Ugh Cal.

  9. Sarah White

    I wish they had not kneeled. But, I understand how they got caught up with their friends and the frenzy of different ideas. My biggest concern is what Cal said and one of the players said: "They saw all this stuff going on and felt they needed to do something.” They need to define what is bothering them – on a scale that directly affects them individually as a team. Let Cal get some of us older folks – men, women, teachers, military, etc. and have the guys talk to us about exact things that are bothering. Then we can all sit together and discuss actions. What is active; what is positive; how can we make change and what should the change be. I’m all about listening to them and hearing what they have to say and then working on solutions.

  10. Kenny Sawyer

    Been a Cat fan for 60 years and we also can handle the loses but can not participate in the un American way, which is One Nation under GOD indivisible…. Therefore we do not agree with the kneeling.. We stand for the flag and kneel for the cross…..

  11. B. Baker

    After reading all these comments from Coach, UK president and AD my heart really goes out to the players that did not want to stand because of the way they were raised and was put in a bad situation to either follow certain players on the team ways or do the opposite and stand. Since the Coaches are the adults they should have thought about these players. This isn’t just about the Military this is about America and being proud to live in a free Country and our forefathers and what our Constitution is about and in God’s name. We seem to forget our forefathers believed in God and that is why we are having so many issues in America because all political decisions aren’t based on God. Because now we have Congressmen or women (lol) that don’t believe in God.

    • Larry Vaught Post author

      Thanks for your comments B. Baker. One thing, I have not seen or heard anything yet indicating players did not all make this decision together. FYI

    • Jim Hyams LTC(R)

      I assume this post was from Buzz and I thank him for it. Remember we stand for the flag and Kneel at the cross

    • Kevin

      Kid’s I can understand, I can’t understand Cal he’s supposed to be the leader. It came back and got them last night. They were schooled by Alabama on there home court. And Ky looked like they had never seen a basketball.


Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>