Rick Pitino is on a media tour today.
His new book, “Pitino: My Story”, is out today, and in an effort to generate headlines and interest — and book sales — the former Louisville head coach granted interviews with a number of outlets, including ESPN, The Athletic and local media like the Louisville Courier-Journal and WDRB.
And if you’ve been paying attention to what Pitino has said in every interview that he has done since last October, when he was fired as the head coach of the Cardinals, you’ll be familiar with he has to say.
He didn’t know about Andre McGee hiring strippers and escorts for recruits from 2010-14. He didn’t know that Adidas and members of his coaching staff had funneled money to Brian Bowen in order to land a commitment from the five-star forward. He is the victim in all of this, run out by a U of L Board of Trustees that had no interest in hearing him defend himself and the big name in all of the headlines during the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball despite the fact that he, nor any member of his staff, was actually arrested in the sweep. “They just consider me, as a U.S. Attorney told my legal team, ‘collateral damage,'” he wrote in the book.
None of that is new.
Pitino is trying to clear his name to preserve his legacy.
The truth is this: He is one of the single-greatest basketball coaches to walk this earth. He won two national titles 17 years apart. He reached Final Fours and won leagues titles without having to prioritize one-and-done prospects. He was a brilliant defensive coach that developed a defense that morphed between zone and man, often within the same possession. He is Basketball Hall of Famer for a reason.
But this is also true: No one is going to remember Rick Pitino for anything other than the scandals. This is who he is, the guy that was run out of the game because he paid $100,000 for a player after his program provided hookers and strippers for recruits which all came after he was involved in a lawsuit that stemmed from an extra-marital affair that took place on a restaurant table.
This book and these interviews are his latest — final? — attempt to get his side of the story on the record, to save the narrative of his life, maybe even a last-ditch effort to get himself another job.
He was linked to a couple openings this spring. Rhode Island was one of them. Siena might have been the more likely destination, but, as he told ESPN on Tuesday, the NCAA was unable to convince programs interested in him that Pitino would not be in their crosshairs.
“I’m not really thinking about coaching again in the future because I’m not in control of that,” he told ESPN. “I feel it’s over for me.”
With all the words written by Pitino and the people covering this book release, those six words right there — “I feel it’s over for me” — is really the only interesting thing I’ve seen.