Rick Pitino will join Hall in September
Win or lose at the Final Four, Louisville coach Rick Pitino will leave Atlanta with a greater legacy than the one he arrived with: He has won induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a source told ESPNNewYork.com on Friday.
Pitino, 60, will be introduced with the rest of the 2013 Hall of Fame class Monday before a national championship game he hopes to be coaching in. His Cardinals will face Wichita State in Saturday's semifinals, and the winner will face the survivor of the Syracuse-Michigan game that follows.
Pitino is appearing in his seventh Final Four, and he's the only coach to have officially taken three schools to the national semifinals. (John Calipari's trips with Massachusetts and Memphis were vacated by the NCAA as part of infractions penalties.) Pitino won the national title with Kentucky in 1996, and his career collegiate record stands at 662-239.
Pitino made his first trip to the Final Four with Providence and star guard Billy Donovan in 1987. His eight seasons in the NBA included six as a head coach, two with the 24-win New York Knicks team he inherited and turned into a 52-win contender in 1989, and four with the 15-win Boston Celtics team he inherited and failed to rebuild before walking away in 2001.
"It would mean a lot to me and my family," Pitino said recently of a possible induction, "but it really exemplifies what I've done for athletes and coaches. And if that day comes, it would mean a lot to share with them. So it's not something I think about, but it's something I would be very, very proud of."Among those joining Pitino in the Class of 2013 will be former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton, former Houston coach Guy Lewis, and NBA and Olympic star Spencer Haywood, according to multiple reports.
Tarkanian, who had various public battles with the NCAA, took UNLV to four Final Fours and won a national championship during his legendary career.
Payton, nicknamed "The Glove" for his defensive prowess, ended his career ranked fourth in career steals (2,445).
Lewis is best known for coaching Houston's Phi Slama Jama teams in the 1980s. The 91-year-old Lewis won 592 games in a 30-year career at Houston.
Haywood helped clear the way for players to enter the NBA before the end of their college eligibility, suing the league and winning at the Supreme Court in 1971. He was a four-time All-Star and won gold with Team USA in the 1968 Olympics. Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held in September.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.