Back-to-back Final Fours. A spot in the Hall of Fame. Junior taking over for Tubby at Minnesota. I don’t know about you, but I’m already tired of this premature (pun not intended, but sort of intended) victory lap that Ricky Three Stacks seems to be taking. You know who else is? The city of Boston.
With his hall of fame enshrinement now a sure thing, Pitino’s legacy has been a constant topic of conversation down in ATL this past week. And with all the “he’s taken three different schools to the Final Four” talk, it’d be easy to assume that his legacy is essentially flawless. Yeah, um, that’s not going over so well up in the Northeast. Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe has more:
To those in Kentucky – whether they bleed Kentucky blue or Louisville red – Rick Pitino is king. He has brought both schools to the Final Four, winning the 1996 national championship with the Wildcats, and he stands just two wins away from the same glory with Louisville.
But whether he wins on Saturday or Monday, or both or neither, Pitino will leave Atlanta one step closer to basketball immortality, with the news breaking Friday that he has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Still, for all his greatness in the college ranks – he is the only coach to have officially taken three teams to the Final Four, also having gone with Providence – Pitino has a mixed legacy in Massachusetts.
There was his time at UMass, playing for Jack Leaman. There was his time at Boston University, where he mastered the press. And there were the Celtics days, a coaching stint that still provokes bitterness around Causeway Street.
“If I had Tim Duncan, I may still be in Boston,” Pitino said at his press conference at the Georgia World Congress Center on Friday.
He laughed. Much of Boston groaned.
Groaned? Talk about an understatement. As someone who grew up in Boston, let me be clear… Celtics fans HATE Rick Pitino. Prior to the C’s recent KG-led run of success, the most decorated franchise in the history of organized basketball was in shambles. And according to the vast majority of the fan base, two things were entirely responsible for that: Cocaine (due to the Len Bias overdose), and the hiring of Rick Pitino.
So yeah, a flawless Hall of Fame legacy for Ricky P? Not so much, according to Bostonians.
PS: I’d quibble with the whole “Pitino is king” in Kentucky thing, but I like to imagine that there are two different Rick Pitinos. The one who made UK basketball tickets the most precious things in life, and the one who bombed with the Celtics and currently dresses like a mafioso on tour with Sir Elton John.