Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was scooped up by the Pistons with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and subsequently embarked on a professional career I think could be summed up as “pretty solid.”
KCP (as he’s known) certainly isn’t a superstar, but he’s a reliable borderline sixth man who averages around 11 points per game and brings a fair amount to the table for any team that signs him (including the Nuggets, who he won an NBA title with in 2023).
Now, it might be a bit too early to say what he’ll be remembered for when everything is said and done, but it’ll be very hard to forget one of the more bizarre situations to not only unfold in the NBA but the entire world of professional sports.
The situation in question transpired when Caldwell-Pope was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, as he was briefly sporting a very unique accessory on his leg stemming from a legal situation he’d found himself embroiled in over the offseason.
Why Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played with an ankle monitor
In March 2017, Caldwell-Pope (who was playing for the Pistons at the time) was stopped by police who spotted him speeding outside of Detroit and was eventually charged with driving under the influence.
While he was initially able to avoid jail time with a plea deal that required him to refrain from drugs and alcohol during his 12-month probationary period, he missed one of his scheduled tests over the summer and subsequently found himself hit with a 25-day jail sentence.
By that point, KCP (who was also suspended by the NBA for the first two games of the 2017-18 season) had signed with the Lakers.
He served his time at a detention center in Orange County, and while he was granted work release, the conditions of his sentence meant he wasn’t allowed to leave the state of California—a restriction that was monitored with the help of the GPS monitor strapped to his ankle.
The typical person on work release might be able to fly under the radar while putting in their time at a Walmart or the office, but an NBA player like Caldwell-Pope doesn’t really have that luxury. As a result, he headed to practices and nationally televised games with the ankle monitor on full display (he was also subjected to a breathalyzer test after finishing “work”).
When everything was said and done, KCP’s legal issues forced him to miss two road games against the Rockets and the Timberwolves toward the end of December.
As far as I can tell, that saga marked the first (and, at least of this writing) only time an NBA player has stepped onto the court for a game wearing an ankle monitor, although it didn’t seem to have any major impact on his play.
The Lakers also didn’t seem particularly bothered by the distraction, as they opted to re-sign the man who averaged 13.4 points and 5.2 rebounds that season ahead of the 2019-20 campaign that saw them walk away with an NBA title.