Regardless of how good you thought your week was, Rick Pitino’s was better.
First, his son was hired at Minnesota to replace Tubby Smith as its next head coach. Aside from the fact that Pitino is his son, he was also a former assistant at Louisville. Then, Pitino’s co-owned horse, Goldencents, won the Santa Anita Derby and now moves on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.
That came not long before Pitino coached his Louisville Cardinals to a win over Wichita State in the Final Four and helped them to advance to the national championship game. What could possibly cap off his week and make it better than it already has been?
Pitino was officially inducted Monday into the National Basketball Hall of Fame along with 11 other members just hours before his team is set to take on Michigan for the national title. And there’s little doubt that he’s worthy of it.
Pitino is the only coach in men’s basketball history to lead three different programs to the Final Four. In doing so with Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville, he has reached that plateau seven times (1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2011, 2013). He won a national championship with Kentucky in 1996 and could do the same with Louisville Monday night.
He has amassed 661 total wins in 27 full seasons as a men’s college coach. That is an average of about 24.5 wins per season. That then begs the question, where would Pitino stand if he had not gone to the NBA for six seasons with the Knicks and Celtics?
If he were to have won his average number of games over that span, it would have added about 147 wins to his total and given him around 808 for his career. He is currently 26th on the all-time wins list for Division I coaches. With those average additional wins, it would boost him all the way up to eighth, just ahead of Eddie Sutton.
He is already highly regarded, but would he have reached a different level entirely if he had spurned the NBA and remained coaching at the collegiate level?