One of the most brilliant coaching minds, Rick Pitino began a new era in University of Louisville men’s basketball when he was named head coach of the Cardinals in 2001. Already reaching the pinnacle of success in college basketball with a 1996 NCAA National Championship with the Kentucky Wildcats, Pitino’s greatest year would still be ahead of him. In 2013, Pitino not only led the Cardinals to their third NCAA title (Pitino’s second), he was also elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame, his horse made it into the Kentucky Derby, and his son got his first prominent head coaching position for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The first coach in NCAA history to win a national championship at two different schools, Pitino’s uptempo style, pressure defense, strong work ethic and family atmosphere have restored the Cardinals to national prominence where it is firmly seated.
In 30 seasons as a collegiate head coach at five different schools, Pitino has a .740 winning percentage that ranks him 13th among active coaches.
A 2006 inductee to the New York City Hall of Fame, Pitino has embraced the storied tradition of Louisville Basketball and made a commitment to producing a vibrant program that eventually led to the 2013 Title.
Pitino’s impact goes beyond the teaching, motivation and X’s and O’s of his on-the-court skills. His incredible charisma, tireless work ethic, captivating speaking skills and widespread appeal not only mesmerize the Cardinal faithful, but have the college basketball world abuzz as well.
Known for getting his players to believe in themselves, Pitino instills the desire to succeed and drive his players to overachieve. His former players speak of their coach’s caring nature beyond their basketball skills.
For three-and-a-half years, Pitino served as president and head coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, he took over a team that had posted a franchise worst 15-67 record before his arrival. He quickly made an impact, improving the Celtics’ victory total by 21 games in his first season.
Pitino was only 25 years old when he accepted his first head coaching job at Boston University in 1978. He produced a 91-51 record in five years there, departing as the most successful coach in BU history. In his final season there, he guided the Terriers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years. He was twice named New England Coach of the Year (1979, 1983).
Before his stint at Kentucky, Pitino served as head coach of the New York Knicks for two seasons. In his initial year there in 1987-88, the Knicks improved by 14 victories and made the NBA Playoffs for the first time in four seasons. The Knicks won 52 games in 1988-89 and swept the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Aside from his hoops prowess, Pitino has achieved success off the court as well in such realms as broadcasting, publishing, motivational speaking and horse racing. He is an accomplished author, producing such books as the bestseller Success is a Choice, Lead to Succeed and One Day Contract.