Rick Pitino is vigorously defending his legacy which is now tainted by his association to some of college basketball’s biggest scandals. The New York City kid who played guard at UMass and then graduated straight to an assistant coach, contract was terminated by Louisville back in October. On Wednesday, the 65-year-old coaching icon left no doubt about his future intentions, saying "I'm finished coaching" during an appearance on ESPN's "Get Up."
The former Louisville coach is making the rounds promoting his new book, "Pitino: My Story." In the book, he writes that his coaching career, which began in the 70s, started bubbling in the 80s as he helped The Big East rise to college basketball supremacy, included two plush NBA gigs and finished with glorious but tainted runs with Kentucky and finally Louisville, is “possibly finished."
Former Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino addresses the Louisville basketball scandal and his future in coaching, saying "I'm finished coaching" in an interview with Mike Greenberg on 'Get Up!'
It's been nearly a year since Pitino’s name surfaced in a backbreaking FBI investigation into college basketball, leading to his termination at Louisville. Pitino has maintained his innocence and ignorance towards Adidas allegedly paying $100,000 to the family of five-star prospect Brian Bowen to steer him to Louisville, even admitting to taking and passing a lie detector test. He also claims to be unaware that former staffer Andre McGee was holding parties in a dormitory, where he provided strippers for players and recruits.
Rick Pitino: "When you make the type of money we make in coaching do you think we're gonna risk ruining our careers bringing strippers into a dorm?" FULL INTERVIEW w/ @GottliebShow: https://t.co/SzK8wHBW77
Claiming to have no knowledge of chaos within your own coveted program is no excuse for a coach who proudly ruled with an iron fist. He either lost control of the program or allowed these rule violations to take place. Both are fireable offenses.
Pitino won two national championships as a coach in 1996 with Kentucky and in 2013 with Louisville. It’s shame that a Hall of Famer with Pitino's contributions to the evolution and popularity and marketability of college basketball has to go out this way.
Even if he wanted to continue his coaching career -- and there would be takers for an iconic name such as Pitino -- Pitino says the negative scrutiny that his arrival would bring would probably outweigh the good he could do for any hoop program.
Former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino sits down for an exclusive interview with Jay Bilas for the first time since being relieved of his duties.
"I'm defending myself now," he said. "A school doesn't have to have the right to hire me, [and] they should look at my full-court press, my matchup zone, my offenses, my motion offenses. They shouldn't have to answer questions about this. It's not fair to the school that would hire me to have to go through that. So let's put closure on a career -- from the days of growing up here in New York and the Knicks.”
Pitino, who still has a wrongful termination lawsuit pending against Louisville, says he’ll work the lecture circuit sharing his years of invaluable knowledge with coaches and players. It’s a shame that Pitino is being forced out, but sometimes kings try to rule too long and the kingdom crumbles before they are ready to relinquish the throne.
"I wrote this book for closure for me and my family to the game," Pitino said. "I love the game. I still eat, sleep and drink it. I watch every minute of it. I watch your show. I can't get enough of it. But I'm not going to coach again. It's been too painful the last three years -- the pain of a lifetime.
Pitino's been through it all. His basketball career is like a maze that he perfected until he just ran out of gas one day and got trapped by a changing hoops landscape. His NBA tenure with the Knicks brought some success and energized MSG. His coaching experience with the Celtics is what inspired him to become one of the greatest college coaches in history.
The NBA on NBC's coverage of Rick Pitino's infamous rant following a March, 1, 2000 home loss to the Toronto Raptors. Originially aired Sunday - March 5, 2000.
"I'll look back at the memories that are in that book and say, 'You know what, I've had a blessed life."