Pitino among 12 to be enshrined in Hall of Fame - NBC Sports

Pitino among 12 to be enshrined in Hall of Fame
APWF
File-This March 31, 2013 file photo shows Louisville head coach Rick Pitino celebrating after Louisville defeated Duke in the Midwest Regional final in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Indianapolis. Pitino is once again studying video of Michael Jordan and John Stockton to learn from them. As in, knowing what to say and not say when the Louisville coach is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Sunday Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
September 6, 2013, 5:09 pm

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Rick Pitino has spent more than half his life as a head coach. Just because he's going into the Basketball Hall of Fame doesn't mean he's thinking about the end of his career.

Hey, he's only 60.

"Not that I'm Peter Pan, but I really never want to feel old," the only coach to win NCAA championships at two schools said. "Sometimes you think of the Hall of Fame and you think of Father Time catching up with you and I never wanted to think about that because I would think that my career's starting to close and I don't want to think that way."

Certainly not while he's on top.

Just five months after leading Louisville to the NCAA title, Pitino and 11 others will be inducted Sunday into the Hall of Fame.

Another member of the class is Jerry Tarkanian, 83, who coached Nevada-Las Vegas to the NCAA championship in 1990 then finished his head coaching career at Fresno State in 2002.

"It's happening to me at the right time," Pitino said. "I wish Jerry Tarkanian was in better health so he can experience this Hall of Fame as I can. I wish he was brought in a few years ago."

Three former NBA All-Stars, Gary Payton, Bernard King and Richie Guerin and four-time ABA All-Star Roger Brown also are being inducted.

The rest of the class is E.B. Henderson, a pioneer in developing participation in basketball for African-Americans, five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley, North Carolina women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, former University of Houston coach Guy Lewis, NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik and former Brazilian great Oscar Schmidt.

For Pitino, it's another milestone in a coaching career that began at Hawaii, where he served as interim head coach for six games in 1976, going 2-4.

"I had the misfortune of being a head coach at 24," he said. "I wasn't ready to be a head coach at 24. I was in my own laboratory, experimenting a system, basically. A lot of my players were 22 and 23 and I was 24. They were my pals. I made a lot of mistakes. Nobody cared.

"Nobody went to the games."

He's coached in front of much bigger crowds since then as an assistant at Syracuse and head coach at Boston University, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville and with two NBA teams, the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.

He led Providence, Kentucky and Louisville to the Final Four and won the championship with Kentucky in 1996 before winning another title last season.

Pitino had less success in the pros with the Knicks from 1987-1989 and the Celtics from 1997-2001. It's his college resume that earned his spot in the Hall of Fame.

"It's a tremendous honor and I think coaches realize why they're there," he said, crediting players and assistant coaches he worked with.

"I'm one of the richest people in the world because I have a lot of friends that I cherish," Pitino said. "From Boston. Lexington, New York to Louisville to Providence, I have a lot of friends that are still very close to me today. And a lot of them are outside the sport."

Now, less than two weeks before his 61st birthday, Pitino wants to keep coaching for a long time.

"I don't know if I can get to age 70," he said. "I'd love to get to it, but the one thing I know is I'm not thinking about it. I'm thinking about the one-day contract (philosophy). I'm enjoying it now as much as any period of my life.

"The day I delegate responsibility is the day I retire."

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