Rick Pitino wants another chance to coach in the NBA and turned down an offer to return as president and head coach of the Greek basketball team, Panathinaikos. The NBA is the one arena where Pitino has failed to win consistently.
While he started out successful, leading the New York Knicks to the conference semifinals in 1989, he left to coach for Kentucky. Pitino returned to the NBA in 1997 to coach the Boston Celtics but resigned in January 2001, during his fourth year of a ten-year, $70 million deal. He had a subpar record of 102-146 with Celtics, and his overall NBA record stands at 192-220.
He then went back to coach in college, where he led Kentucky and Louisville to NCAA titles while making seven Final Four appearances and claiming conference titles in the Big East, SEC and ACC. Despite his success, Pitino's college coaching career has been marred in controversy.
He was fired from Louisville in 2018 after an FBI investigation into recruiting violations under his watch. While it appears he had no knowledge that money was sent to the family of a former recruit, the NCAA vacated one of Louisville's NCAA championships and two of their Final Four appearances.
He left Louisville and took over the reins for Panathinaikos. He led the team to a Greek Cup title, going 15-0 on the year. Despite his success, he decided to return the United States so he can pursue a job in the NBA, either in the front office or as a head coach.
Pitino thanked the players and his staff for their support in a statement on Twitter.
"This past year has been incredible," Pitino wrote. "I'd like to thank all of the players and their terrific efforts. Thanks to my staff for their loyalty and dedication. Thank you to our passionate owner and GM."
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