The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame presented John Calipari with the Ray Meyer Coach of the Year award Wednesday night in Chicago. The award is named after legendary DePaul coach Ray Meyer, who led the DePaul basketball program for 42 years.
The award is one of the few the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame presents to non-Chicagoans.
“Honored to win the Ray Meyer Coach of the Year tonight,” Calipari tweeted. “Best part is I got to share it with Mr. and Mrs. Davis.”
Calipari guided Kentucky to its eight national championship and 15th Final Four appearance last season. It was his first national championship and fourth Final Four appearance.
UK suffered just two losses on the season en route to a national and conference championship. Calipari collected SEC Coach of the Year honors from the league’s coaches and media for his team’s dominant regular season.
After the season, six of Coach Cal’s players were selected in the NBA Draft, the most in the two-round draft era.
While he was at Wednesday’s reception, Calipari met with several Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame members. Below are a couple of comments from Coach Cal on each one, plus a link to a picture of Calipari with each guy from Wednesday night.
Gale Sayers - “He may be one of the best running backs of all time. He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. Enough said.”
Paul Hornung - “He grew up in Louisville but went to school at Notre Dame. Paul played for the Green Bay Packers and is one of only three players to have won the Heisman Trophy, been selected first overall in the NFL Draft, and been inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. He told me he’s got a horse trained by D. Wayne Lukas running in next year’s Kentucky Derby.”
Jimmy Piersall - ”He played nearly two decades of baseball. He’s had a book and movie done on him, and he had a career in Chicago as a broadcaster. He’s now in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. To this day, he is still one of the most colorful guys in sports.”
Bo Jackson - “Who could do what he did? I wonder if he can golf because there’s not another sport he can’t do. Maybe the best athlete of all-time.”
Ron Rubenstein - “He’s one of the great players to play for a Louisville. He played basketball for the Cardinals in the late 1950s and early 1960s in addition to tennis.”
Otis Wilson - “Otis was a great football player at Louisville and is one of their all-time leading tacklers. He went on to win a Super Bowl with arguably the greatest team of all-time, the 1985 Chicago Bears.”