It can't be easy dealing with Rick Pitino. Actually, I take that back: It couldn't have been easy dealing with Rick Pitino this offseason, when the coach was surrounded on all sides by national media interested in his role -- which Pitino eventually disclosed -- in the alleged Karen Sypher extortion-affair-abortion fiasco. The saga was bad enough. Pitino made it worse by attacking the media and, perhaps most egregious, continually deflecting the media by constantly reminding them of his proximity to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. It was, to say the least, a bad offseason for Louisville media relations.
But no one ever blamed Pitino for being ungrateful, and gratitude comes in many forms. For Louisville sports information director Kenny Klein, Rick's gratitude came in the form of a brand new $50,000 Lexus IS convertible. (In case you're wondering what that car probably looks like, here you go. I'm not even a big Lexus guy -- not that I will ever be able to afford one anyway -- but yeah, that car is awesome.) Pitino bought Klein the gift for his 50th birthday; the two have been working together for the past nine seasons.
Good for Pitino, and good for Klein. Sports information directors -- the college athletics department's public relations people -- have pretty thankless jobs, even when they rise to Klein's professional heights. (Ask any former student journalist: Those working below folks like Klein in SID departments have an even tougher job, and they almost always deliver the goods. This comes in helpful when you're trying to do a story about your school's star tennis player or something.) Klein deserves a sweet ride even if the whole Karen Sypher thing had never happened. Add in the hectic summer, and Pitino's gesture is all the more impressive.