Former Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday, following an ongoing career that included 664 college games and two NCAA titles with two schools.
Rick Pitino coached Kentucky from 1989-1997.
Pitino first won the NCAA championship with Kentucky, then spent six seasons in the NBA before going to Kentucky's in-state rival Louisville where he won an NCAA championship in 2013.
At Kentucky, Pitino had a 219-50 record, reaching the NCAA Final Four three times and winning the title in 1996. After a runner-up finish in 1997, he jumped to the pro ranks where he did not fare quite as well: his Knicks made it to the playoffs twice, then he moved to Boston, where he resigned after four straight years below .500. He had a total pro record of 192-220.
At Boston, Pitino was not particularly well-loved, especially because people had such high expectations of him.
"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old," he urged players and fans after a home loss at the buzzer to Toronto on March 1, 2000.
On Sunday, though, as Pitino was posing for pictures before his induction to the Hall of Fame, Larry Bird just showed up.
"He finally walks through the door, and I said, 'What took you so long to walk through that door?' And he said to me, 'You don't want me now,'" Pitino told ESPN. Larry Bird himself was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
It just so happened that Bird was also in town to present an award to legendary Brazilian forward Oscar Schmidt, who scored 49,737 career points in both club and international play -- widely considered the world record for points scored. Schmidt was drafted by New Jersey in 1984, but refused to play as playing in the NBA would have barred him from international play.
Pitino and Schmidt were joined by 12 other notable figures in the 2013 HOF class, including Gary Payton, Bernard King, and Jerry Tarkanian.
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