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Tuesday, 09 April 2013 00:39

Rick Pitino heading to the Basketball Hall of Fame

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Former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

Pitino enters the Hall primarily on his stellar work as a coach at the collegiate level with Boston University, Providence College, University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.  He leads the Cardinals into tonight’s NCAA Championship Game against the University of Michigan.  Pitino has one NCAA championship (1996 Kentucky Wildcats) and tonight marks his third appearance in the Championship Game (along with his seventh appearance in the Final Four). It was an unlikely Final Four run with the upstart Providence College Friars in 1987 that earned Pitino a shot at the NBA.

The New York Knicks hired Pitino as Head Coach in 1987 and he led them to two consecutive playoff appearances including a trip to the second round in 1989.  Pitino used that performance as a springboard to land an even higher profile position; Head Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.  After eight seasons in the Bluegrass State, the Boston Celtics lured him back to the NBA to turn around the storied franchise.

Over three plus seasons, Pitino submitted a less-than-Hall-worthy performance as Team President and Head Coach of the Celtics.  During his tenure, he managed to enrage or alienate virtually everyone associated from the franchise – from legendary franchise patriarch Red Auerbach all the way down to a majority of the fan base – through a series of impetuous personnel transactions and curious coaching decisions.  He resigned his position with the Celtics in January of 2001 after posting a 102-144 record.

Another name with brief ties to the Celtics joins Pitino as part of the Hall’s Class of 2013. Former Seattle Supersonics point guard Gary Payton spent the 2004-2005 season with the Celtics during the twilight of an outstanding 17-year NBA career.

Former NCAA coaches Jerry Tarkanian, Guy Lewis, and Silvia Hatchell along with former NBA player Bernard King and former NCAA and WNBA star Dawn Staley round out the class that will be inducted on September 8th in Springfield.

Rich Conte

Rich Conte has been passionately following the Boston Celtics and the NBA for almost 40 years.  That interest began with the classic Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Final, blossomed during the original Big Three era, and persisted through the lean years of the 90s and the "Thanksdad" Gaston era.  Rich has been blogging and podcasting through CLNS Radio for the past two years  and also hosts a technology podcast; The Tech Life on the Beats and Eats network.  You can follow him on Twitter @richconte and find him as a frequent contributor to the Celtics Beat Podcast discussion group on Facebook.