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Rick Pitino says UK not honoring the 20th anniversary of 1996 National Championship because of him


This afternoon, Rick Pitino went on Terry Meiners’ show to give a progress report on his Louisville squad and discuss this weekend’s reunion of the 1996 National Championship team from his time at Kentucky. This year is the 20th anniversary of the ’96 squad winning it all, but instead of gathering in Lexington, Pitino and his former players are holding the celebration in Miami, Florida. When asked why, Pitino gave Meiners a simple answer: him.

“You know, Terry, first of all, I know why they’re not honoring — they’ll give you a lot of excuses — but it would hurt, it would distract — me as the Louisville coach, would be distracting for all the players. The fans certainly don’t care for me there anymore. Just the older ones who knew me when I was there, and you remember the little boy on the cover of Sports Illustrated that read, ‘Shame’ and all the embarrassment, similar to the embarrassment we’re going through now at Louisville.”

Hey, hold up, there, Rick. Let’s be clear here, the Emery scandal and coaches hiring prostitutes for players are two very different things. Good? Okay, continue…

“It turned all around — they don’t remember those days,” Rick said of Kentucky fans’ distaste for him now. “Those college kids today weren’t even born. So the fact that we could get away — now, if I wasn’t the Louisville coach, certainly, it deserves to be in Rupp in front of everyone. I’m sure at a later point this season, they’ll do something for that team without me.”

It is worth noting that UK gave the 1996 Championship rings three years ago at a ceremony at Rupp:

Listen to Meiners’ interview below. He asks Pitino about the team not being honored at Rupp around the 11-minute mark:

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

11 Comments for Rick Pitino says UK not honoring the 20th anniversary of 1996 National Championship because of him

  1. onsides
    6:42 pm August 22, 2016 Permalink

    Well, he’s right. The 1996 team is unquestionably the most popular team in modern UK history. 98 is my favorite team but, whatever.

  2. terwilliger
    6:47 pm August 22, 2016 Permalink

    Whatever helps the crypt keeper sleep at night. I was 8 years old when the unforgettables lost to puke. Was 12 when the ’96 Cats beasted through the tourney. I grew up on Rick Pitino basketball, the bombinos, the vaunted full court press, all of it. But then I became an adult, and realized that the man is a self-serving dickhead who doesn’t take responsibility for his (MANY) transgressions.

    Don’t think for a minute that he truly believes the bullshit he’s spewing about how the “old fans” still love him and are thankful and blah blah. Sure, we’re thankful for what you did for the program when it was in a very dark place. You made UK basketball fun again, not to mention successful again. And we will never forget that. But come on dude. You literally committed the cardinal sin. Now you gotta sleep in that filthy nest. Just pipe the eff down and enjoy the one fleeting moment every two years that you get to set foot in the mecca of basketball before we send your ass back to birdtown with another L.

  3. BluKudzu
    7:01 pm August 22, 2016 Permalink

    Puck Fitino. Let them fly, maybe we were waiting for the 21st anniversary, before celebrating, since we need to know if he still has a job after The IRS Audit at itsy bitsy brother.

  4. serdi
    8:11 pm August 22, 2016 Permalink

    As a UK GRAD and someone who started following Kentucky basketball in the 1965-66 season, I agree with Rick. We should have honored the 1996 team last year and had it on a weekend when Rick could come whether he chose to or not. My only issue with Rick is after all these years, he still doesn’t get it that coaching at UL would rub UK People the wrong way.

    What really makes me very disappointed is that they ignored recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Runts. Really? If it had not been for former asst coach and SEC analyst Joe Dean showing photos of the Runts and interviewing Larry Conley at a game late last winter no recognition would have been given to them.

  5. david8577
    9:38 pm August 22, 2016 Permalink

    The 1996 team was great, but who celebrates anniversaries of championships? Also, Pitino, stop talking about UK. When you left to coach the North Korea of college basketball, you gave up the right to mention UK anymore.

    • Kenny P.
      11:05 pm August 22, 2016 Permalink

      “North Korea of college basketball”? Wow…

  6. jhnny
    1:46 am August 23, 2016 Permalink

    I was at UK in the 90s and I agree with Rick. You do it to the honor the team and for the fans.

  7. symphonist41169
    8:03 am August 23, 2016 Permalink

    Why would anyone be surprised that Pitino is making this about HIM? I’ll always be grateful for the resurrection job he did in the 90s after the program was left on life support by the Emory scandal but come on, man. It really ISN’T always about you!!

  8. CatsfaninFL
    8:30 am August 23, 2016 Permalink

    This is a petty one IMO. I’m 35 so I’m not that ‘old’, but I’d love to see everyone back. It’s not the players fault Rick went to UL.

    I can’t stand him at UL, but I will always respect and appreciate what he did at UK which is why I wish both sides could come to an agreement and do something early on this season. I doubt that could happen since UK/UL game is at UL and there will most likely be scheduling conflicts all around. Maybe the 25 or 30 year when he’s retired…

  9. theWilkman
    10:41 am August 23, 2016 Permalink

    We gave them new rings just last year. How was that not honoring them? If the disdain of the UK fanbase bothers him so much, maybe he shouldn’t have flipped the bird during his last appearance?

  10. terwilliger
    8:04 pm August 23, 2016 Permalink

    #7, thank you for saying what I was trying to say, more succinctly. That really is the crux of the issue to me.