It's no secret Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is a very good friend of Knicks new team president Leon Rose -- their relationship spans over decades. So Calipari is the perfect person to discuss how Rose is going to transform the Knicks.
Speaking to SNY's Ian Begley during a conference call, Calipari -- who announced Tuesday that, through The Calipari Foundation, he would be donating groceries to 400 families during the coronavirus pandemic -- elaborated on his good friend, saying that Rose is just the guy the Knicks need because of one crucial quality.
"He's a gatherer," Calipari said. "And I believe that's what the Knicks need right now, a gatherer who can bring things together and make it a culture that players want to be in because they know, 'this is about all of us.'"
Changing the Knicks' culture is obviously a main priority, especially with top free agents electing to go elsewhere when they hit the market. That's why brand consultant Steve Stoute had been put in place.
And Calipari said Rose's overall demeanor will help start everything on the right path. He explained how "Leon is the same guy that was in high school that he is today," and that's someone who understands the meaning of building close relationships. It explains why he had such success in his previous job as one of basketball's top agents.
There was no ego with Rose despite having top clients like Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Allen Iverson and LeBron James.
"If he even lost a player, which he lost them, never one word in a negative way about that player, never one," Calipari said.
Rose's new title, though, might be his hardest task yet. Calipari said Rose understands how crucial it is to win in this New York market, and even more so since the Knicks have been in obscurity for some time now.
"And it's a rough place to be, New York. It's not easy," Calipari said. "It's kind of like Philadelphia. It's all good if you're winning. If you're losing, hard places to be as an athlete."
So will that change what the Knicks desperately need happen in the immediate under Rose? Will the shift in culture happen right away?
In Calipari's eyes, that's too lofty of an expectation. However, he won't underestimate his friend's drive.
"I believe he's going to do a great job," he said. "But it's not going to be in the first month. It may take a year or two for everyone to say, 'This is the path we've been waiting for, this is it.'"
Calipari has been connected to the Knicks' head coaching search if Rose decides not to bring back interim head coach Mike Miller next season. But Calipari has been adamant about not wanting to leave the Wildcats.