INDIANAPOLIS - Introducing Kentucky coach John Calipari as part of the 2015 Naismith Hall of Fame class, CBS announcer Jim Nantz asked him how he will look back on this special season.
"Did you watch the game?" Calipari said, referring to Saturday's loss to Wisconsin that ruined the Wildcats' bid for a perfect season.
As laughter in the room died, Calipari added, "Thank God the hotel didn't have windows that open."
The timing of the Hall of Fame announcement of a class that includes former Knick Spencer Haywood, referee Dick Bavetta of Brooklyn, NBA stars Dikembe Mutombo and JoJo White and WNBA star Lisa Leslie was unfortunate for Calipari, who celebrated the crowning achievement of his sometimes controversial career in the aftermath of possibly his most crushing loss.
"What I'm trying to do is laugh and smile and enjoy myself so I don't cry," Calipari said. "Because it was devastating. I thought we were going 40-0. It never entered my mind that we would lose."
Before that game, Calipari learned of his selection in an emotional call from Hall of Fame board chairman Jerry Colangelo. He has taken three schools to the Final Four: Massachusetts and then Memphis before winning the title with Kentucky in 2012. The induction ceremony is in September in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Asked if he has any desire to return to the NBA to prove himself after an inglorious end to his Nets tenure from 1996-99, Calipari said no.
His focus now is on helping between five and seven of his Kentucky players prepare for the NBA Draft, including Karl-Anthony Towns, who is a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick.
Describing his pitch to NBA personnel people, Calipari said: "I'll say, 'He's one of the greatest kids, really intelligent, really a smart kid. Will make free throws, can play pick-and-roll defense, will guard, block shots, and he's going to be a little bit like [LaMarcus Aldridge of Portland]."
Haywood, who long ago paved the way for early-entry players by winning a Supreme Court decision that allowed him to turn pro after his sophomore year in college, favors Duke's Jahlil Okafor over Towns if the Knicks have the first pick.
"I like Okafor because his foot movement seems to be better, and he seems to be more settled and relaxed," Haywood said. "He's sort of like Tim Duncan-style, kind of calm. Towns is very talented. He'sthe legit deal."
Haywood, meanwhile, spoke about former teammate Phil Jackson, who is president of the Knicks, saying: "I hope Phil gets what he wants because I want to see the Knicks back on top. I can't go into the Hall of Fame under Seattle. We don't have a team. I'm going in as a Knick."