Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack on Monday addressed the viral video of him celebrating the Dec. 26 win over Kentucky at his home, calling his mask-less appearance “not a good look” and saying he reached out to Wildcats coach John Calipari to explain the video’s context.
Mack said in his news conference that Calipari was as “gracious as always” in their conversation.
“He was understanding. I think he understood the context. Anytime I’ve every dealt with Coach Calipari, he’s been great. So he offered a few words of advice, which I’ll just keep between he and I, but I was appreciative of his response,” Mack said.
The 33-second video at the center of the situation now has surpassed 279,000 views. In it, former Cardinals football player and Pro Bowler Eric Wood says former Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne was responsible for the Wildcats’ previous wins against Louisville, and “Kenny Payne is gone.”
Payne left Kentucky to become a New York Knicks assistant coach in August.
“You know what Kentucky is minus Kenny Payne? 0-1. 0-and-forever,” Wood says as Mack celebrates. “(John Calipari) will never, never beat U of L again.”
Mack said the video was made in jest.
The remarks Mack made to start his press conference are as follows:
“I know most of you have seen the video and I wanted to take a few minutes to address it. I’ll give you some context first and then give you my thoughts after that. I would tell you that most of you know it was after the Kentucky game. I was having the Mack family Christmas. We had a three-day break immediately following the game. I was having Christmas at the house.
“A few neighbors walked over to my house and they happened to be really, really good friends with Kenny Payne – golfing buddies, they go way back, hang out together. I don’t know Kenny that well but Eric and his buddy (are) really, really good friends with Kenny. They thought it’d be funny to FaceTime him, text him, and give him grief for the game and that’s what they did. And obviously it led to the video that was then sent to Kenny.
“And so that was the context. It was a private video, obviously. It’s not private today. It’s why I’m talking to you guys, but it was a joke amongst buddies to Kenny. How it got out, I have no idea and it’s really irrelevant, although Kenny didn’t get it out.
“I recognize, hey, listen. The position I’m in at Louisville, I’ve got to do right by my players. And two things I think really stick out about the video to me, if you don’t have much context, and that is, No. 1 COVID. Like we all have for the last year or so, I have great respect for it. We’ve had to do everything under the sun, from eating in our own rooms at hotels to wearing masks, conducting film sessions on the basketball court rather than the film room, just like everybody else has had to sacrifice.
“Now, I’ll say this. When people come over to my house, which hasn’t been very often since last March, I’m probably a violator and obviously was that night (when) neighbors or friends stopped by and not putting on my mask around the house. Not a good look. And so for that, I’ve got to do better.
“The second thing is, the first thing I really thought of was Calipari. I didn’t want him to think it was some shot, that this was directed out to the World Wide Web and that I was trying to send a message to him. So that was the first person I called when I was aware of the video (Sunday) morning. I just wanted to be able to clear the air and tell him the great respect I have for him and his program and the job that he’s done. And that’s how I feel. I wanted him to know it was a joke to Kenny Payne and obviously went sideways.
“As I tell my players, when you do things that happen in the spotlight, you’ve got to own it. And fortunately by me, I own things. So I live and learn by them and we’ll move forward. But that’s sort of the context of the video. If I offended anybody, I feel bad for doing that but that wasn’t what the intention was by any means. But neither here nor there.
“I talked to (Louisville athletic director) Vince (Tyra) about it and just don’t want it to be a distraction for our team any more than it’s been. I want to talk about Notre Dame and move forward.”
Mack was asked by a media member if he thought he was deserving of discipline in light of three Louisville soccer players being dismissed from their program in August over failure to abide by safety protocols. Mack said that’s “not really my judgment call.”
“As I said, I made an error. It’s not like I invited everybody over to a big party at the house,” Mack said. “But (I’ll) be a big boy and whatever comes my way comes my way.”
Louisville (11-5, 6-4 ACC) hosts Notre Dame (9-11, 6-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the KFC Yum Center in its first home game in 22 days.
Reach Shannon Russell at [email protected] and follow on Twitter @slrussell.