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John Calipari couldn't make himself leave Kentucky to coach LeBron James

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The Kentucky Wildcats coach couldn't leave a group of returning players, but he's also realistic about how good of a gig he has in Big Blue Nation.

LeBron James could have made his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers known much earlier in the free agency process, but even then Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari believes he would have remained at his current post. Calipari admitted to The Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker that he was in the running for the Cavs' head coaching opening, but said the talks were "not as (close) as everybody thought."

The opportunity to coach the world's best player wasn't and wouldn't have been enough to pull Calipari from a returning group of college players who he remains committed to, Tucker reports.

"They came back because it was good for them and their careers and they knew they needed more developing and coaching. That was by me. That's what they wanted," Calipari told the paper in an interview Sunday morning in the Bahamas. "So that made it a tough deal to say, 'I'm just going to leave these guys here.' With who? It may be somebody I don't know that wouldn't do the things for them that they needed to do."

Alex Poythress, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson are among the returning players that are expected to do big things for one of the deepest college basketball teams in recent memory. While Calipari's commitment to his players is one thing, it didn't hurt that Kentucky handed its coach a contract extension that will pay him $52.5 million through the 2021 season.

Calipari had a competitive offer from the Cavaliers, who were willing to give him the head coaching job along with a front office position. He could have the final say in basketball decisions, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, and the offer was apparently along the lines of a seven-year, $60 million contract.

Instead, Calipari took the job security at Kentucky. Though he admits it's a grind to "feed the beast" as he puts it, he has little reason to leave anytime soon. Calipari not only has a great job, but what he calls "the job."

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