The safest bet in the world was that Rick Pitino’s claim that he was done coaching basketball would not turn out to be true.
On Thursday afternoon, the former Kentucky and Louisville head coach accepted a position as the head coach of Greek power Panathinaikos, a club team located in Athens that plays in the Euroleague, according to ESPN.
Panathinaikos is off to just a 6-7 start in Euroleage play, but it does have a roster with names that American basketball fans are going to recognize: Florida’s Nick Calathes, former Iowa State commit Georgios Papagiannis, Kansas’ Keith Langford, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas, Maryland’s James Gist and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the older brother of the Greek Freak, Giannias Antetokounmpo.
Pitino’s name had been in the mix for a couple of job openings last spring — namely Rhode Island and Siena — but neither of those programs were willing to pull the trigger on hiring him. There has been some speculation that he could be a target for UCLA if and when they decide to move on from Steve Alford as well.
Pitino was fired by Louisville last October, after his program was caught in the FBI’s investigation into college basektball participating in a scheme to get Adidas to funnel $100,000 to the father of Brian Bowen, a five-star prospect from Saginaw, Michigan. Pitino also spent time as the head coach at Kentucky and Providence, and was a head coach in the professional ranks with both the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.