John Calipari on similarity with Rick Pitino's book title: 'Don't care'

ByMyron Medcalf ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Not even the publishing world is safe from the effects of the heated Louisville Cardinals-Kentucky Wildcats rivalry.

Kentucky's John Calipari recently said he refused to alter the title of his new book after his publisher, HarperCollins, told him it might generate controversy because it resembles the title of a book Louisville's Rick Pitino wrote in the 1990s.

On Wednesday, John Calipari tweeted praise for the contributors to his new book, "Success Is the Only Option: The Art of Coaching Extreme Talent," which will be released on Nov. 15.

In 1997, Pitino wrote "Success Is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life." Calipari said his publisher asked him to change the title to differentiate his book from Pitino's. He would not. He said he'd already changed the original title -- "Coaching Extreme Talent: Failure Is Not An Option" -- and did not want to make additional changes.

"So then, we're ready to release it and he calls me and says, 'You know they're gonna talk about Rick's book,'" Calipari told ESPN. "I said, 'What book?' He wrote a book in [1997]. I go, 'What was the name of the book?' 'Success Is A Choice.' I said, 'What? That has nothing to do with it. It doesn't even sound the same.' I said, 'Just go. We're not changing everything because he wrote a book in '97. I don't care.'"

Calipari said he wrote the new book because he's often asked about the secret to his success and he wanted to offer some insight into his dominance in college basketball's one-and-done era.

"The new book was everybody asking me and everybody saying, 'How in the world do you get these guys that are this talented, in that short period of time, who were the center of attention everywhere they went to, shot all the balls, who've never really been challenged, and then you get them and bring them together and you're on their butts like you're on them and they perform and they win?'" he said.

Calipari said he's not concerned about any backlash. But he said he heard a few complaints when the title was announced months ago. Those critics who think he created the title to take a shot at Pitino are "out of their minds," he said.

"If you react to every barking dog, if you stop for every barking dog," Calipari said, "you're never getting home."

Pitino was asked about Calipari's book at ACC media day.

"A) I didn't know he wrote a book, and B) I didn't know the title, so you're catching me a little off guard here,'' Pitino told "If subliminallyJohn did something, that's OK. I don't own the patent on book titles.''

Asked if he would buy the book, Pitino laughed.

"No,'' he said. "But if he wants to send me a free copy, I'll read it.''

ESPN's Dana O'Neil contributed to this report.