Add Bill Self to the list of college coaches who passed on Cleveland's top coaching gig when it came open this off-season.
But don't blame him too much for giving up what could have been the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to coach LeBron James, who announced last week that he was leaving the Miami Heat to join forces with the Cavaliers.
It's not Self's fault that he didn't foresee Lebron's move back north to his home state. Most experts believed that the four-time MVP and two-time NBA Champion would remain in South Beach.
"I talked to the Cavs' people a lot throughout their evaluation process and the draft, but I"ll just leave it at that," Self said to the Kansas City Star. "That wasn't anything I wanted to become public, certainly, and they didn't either."
Self has been a popular dance partner for many wooing NBA teams in the past and for good reason — his Jayhawks have been one of college's top programs since he arrived in 2003, with a record of 325 wins to only 69 losses.
That run has seen his team play in the NCAA Tournament in each of his 11 seasons as head coach, with five Elite Eight appearances and a championship in the 2007-08 season.
"There's nothing about me and the NBA," Self said on May 2, "Zero."
Part of the rumors have been fed by Self's unwillingness to rule out an NBA stint in the future. For now, head coach David Blatt is firmly in place to coach Lebron, star point guard Kyrie Irving and first-round pick Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins, of course, played for Self last season, which have made for an interesting wrinkle if he had chosen to coach the Cavaliers for the foreseeable future.
Florida's Billy Donovan and Michigan State's Tom Izzo were also courted by the Cavaliers, but rebuffed what seemed to be an one of the NBA's more unappealing jobs before LeBron signed on.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari drew the most headlines for his decision not to join the Cavaliers, who offered him a monster seven-year deal worth more than $60 million. The offer included making Calipari both coach and team president, according to Yahoo! Sports, which would have given him complete control in building a contender.
ESPN went so far as to say the contract was for nearly $80 million, disbursed over 10 years.
However, the stars did not align for the best recruiter in college basketball and the best basketball player in the world. Calipari had no way to know that Lebron would sign, and he wasn't willing to task the risk of leaving behind a proven powerhouse like Kentucky without having that assurance. At the time Cleveland hired Blatt on June 20, LeBron had just lost five days before in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs and had not yet made a decision on his future.
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