Richard Andrew Pitino is an American college basketball coach who is the head coach for Iona College. He is also the head coach of Greece’s senior national team. He has been the head coach of several teams in NCAA Division I and in the NBA, including Boston University (1978–1983), Providence College (1985–1987), the New York Knicks (1987–1989), the University of Kentucky (1989–1997), the Boston Celtics (1997–2001), the University of Louisville (2001–2017), and Panathinaikos of the Greek Basket League and EuroLeague (2018–2020).
Pitino led Kentucky to an NCAA Championship in 1996. He is the only coach to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to a Final Four. In 2013, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In June 2017, the NCAA suspended Pitino for five games of the 2017–18 season for his lack of oversight in ans escort sex scandal at the University of Louisville involving recruits. Louisville’s national championship from 2013 was eventually vacated as well. In September, Pitino was implicated in a federal investigation involving bribes to recruits, which resulted in Louisville firing him for cause.
Early Life and Age.
Pitino was born on 18 September 1952 (age 68 years) in New York City, New York and was raised in Bayville, New York. He was the team captain of the St. Dominic High School basketball team in Oyster Bay, Long Island. He enrolled at the University of Massachusetts in 1970. At a listed height of 1.83 m (6’0″) tall, he was a standout point guard for the team. Pitino held the tenth spot at UMass for career assists, with 329, until Chaz Williams (2011-2014) became the leader in career assists following his final season with the Minutemen. He led the team in assists as a junior and senior. The 168 assists as a senior is the eighth-best single season total ever there.
Pitino was a freshman at the same time future NBA legend Julius Erving spent his junior (and final) year at UMass, although the two never played on the same team because freshmen were ineligible to play varsity basketball at the time. Other teammates of Pitino’s include Al Skinner, who also went on to become a successful college coach, and baseball player Mike Flannagan, who went on to pitch in the major leagues and win the AL Cy Young Award in 1979. Pitino earned his degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) in 1974.
Pitino’s college coaching assignments include Boston University, Providence College, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Louisville. As a collegiate head coach, Pitino has compiled a 629–234 record, for a .732 winning percentage that was ranked 10th among active coaches and 29th all-time among all collegiate basketball coaches entering the 2012 season.
Pitino is considered by many to be one of the first coaches to promote fully taking advantage of the 3-point shot, first adopted by the NCAA in 1987. By exploiting the 3-point shot, his teams at Kentucky in the early 1990s were known as Pitino’s Bombinos, as a significant portion of the offensive points came from the 3-point shot. Even now, Pitino’s teams are known for the 3-point threat and all of his teams rank towards the top in 3-point attempts per season.
Many of Pitino’s players and assistant coaches have gone on to become successful collegiate coaches. In total, 21 former Pitino players and coaches have become Division I head coaches.
NBA Coaching Career.
Pitino became head coach of the New York Knicks on July 14, 1987. The year before he arrived, the team had only won 24 games. In just two years, Pitino led the Knicks to their first division title in nearly twenty years. He resigned from the Knicks on May 30, 1989. Pitino returned to the NBA in 1997 when the Boston Celtics hired him as head coach on May 6, 1997. He resigned on January 8, 2001.
His NBA coaching experience often demonstrated a deep frustration with the dynamics of the league, especially in Boston, where he amassed a 102–146 record from 1997 to 2001. After being beaten by the Toronto Raptors on March 1, 2000, on a buzzer-beater by Vince Carter, Pitino’s frustration reached critical mass as he addressed the press. Referring to the expectations of Boston Celtics fans and media, Pitino challenged each of them to let go of the past and focus on the future.
Pitino struggled in Boston, and statistics like 1998–99’s 19–31 record made him little better in the eyes of many Boston fans than his inexperienced predecessor, M. L. Carr. Pitino’s remarks became a cornerstone of Celtics lore, and has served as a metaphor for other sports franchises and their inability to relive past successes. Pitino himself reprised the speech in a tongue-in-cheek manner at Louisville in November 2005, challenging his freshmen players to play as tough as past seniors and drawing laughter from sportswriters in a postgame press conference. During his time in Boston, he also served as team president, with complete control over basketball operations.
On December 20, 2010, Pitino was hired as head coach of the senior Puerto Rico National Team. On April 29, 2011, it was announced that Pitino would not coach the Puerto Rico national team, due to scheduling conflicts and NCAA regulations disallowing it. Pitino coached the Puerto Rican national team at the 2015 FIBA Americas Championships, in Mexico City, Mexico. They finished the tournament in 5th place.
On November 8, 2019, Pitino was hired as head coach of Greece’s senior men national team. The Hellenic Basketball Federation announced that Pitino would be Greece’s head coach at the 2020 FIBA Vicoria Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and the 2020 Summer Olympics, should Greece qualify.
Pitino married his wife, the former Joanne Minardi, in 1976.
They have five living children: Michael, Christopher, Richard Jr. (current head coach at New Mexico), Ryan and Jacqueline. Another son, Daniel, died in 1987 from congenital heart failure at the age of six months. Rick and Joanne established the Daniel Pitino Foundation (along with a Daniel Pitino shelter in Owensboro, Kentucky) in his memory, which has raised millions of dollars for children in need.
Their son’s death was not the last tragedy for Rick and Joanne. Both were especially hard-hit by the terrorits attack of 2001, as Joanne’s brother and Rick’s closest friend, Billy Minardi, was working as a bond trader. Since 2002, the University of Louisville has designated a December home game as the Billy Minardi Classic, and the university named a dorm on campus as “Billy Minardi Hall”. Only a few months earlier, another brother-in-law of Rick, Don Vogt, was killed after being hit by a New York City cab.
As of March 2021, Rick Pitino’s net worth is estimated to be $50 million. He has made his money from his coaching gig.