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Rick Pitino at Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony: ‘I learned patience, humility’ from rough stint with Celtics

09.09.13 at 11:11 am ET
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The Basketball Hall of Fame inducted seven former players and four coaches on Sunday, including former Celtics coach Rick Pitino.

Rick Pitino did not avoid talking about his unsuccessful stint as Celtics coach during his induction speed at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday. (AP)

Rick Pitino did not avoid talking about his unsuccessful stint as Celtics coach during his induction speech at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday. (AP)

Pitino enters the Hall of Fame more for his work as a college coach than as a professional coach.

He has won national championships with Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013), appeared in seven Final Fours — including an improbable 1987 run with Providence that earned him NABC and John Wooden National Coach of the Year honors — and amassed 662 victories in 27 seasons.

“Coaches don’t just get into the Hall of Fame. Players put them into the Hall of Fame,” Pitino said at his induction ceremony in Springfield.

For all the success he enjoyed at the collegiate level — including his start at Boston University from 1978 until 1983 — his coaching resume will always have a blip because of his forgettable experience with the Celtics.

Pitino took over as coach of the C’s in 1997. His stint lasted 3½ years, and his teams posted a 102-146 record during that time.

When Pitino was hired in 1997, not only did he take over as coach, he also became the team’s general manager, CEO and president. This complete control caused intense scrutiny for the former UMass guard when the wheels fell off.

“You may wonder what I learned about the Boston Celtics. I am really, really grateful to them. I learned more than I gave,” Pitino said. “I didn’t give too much except leaving Jim O’Brien to master the helm. But I learned patience, humility, and a lot of people think it’s because of losing that you learn humility and it’s a major factor. I gained the humility because I had the greatest treat for four years.”

 

After the 2000-01 NBA season, Pitino bounced back to the college game with Louisville. Since returning, he’s sent three teams to the Final Four, including last season’s national championship team.

Pitino joined a list of coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday that included former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, former Houston coach Guy Lewis and North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell.

The seven players inducted were former NBA stars Gary Payton, Bernard King and Richie Guerin, former ABA star Roger Brown, Brazilian legend Oscar Schmidt and former WNBA player Dawn Staley.

Russ Granik, former deputy NBA commissioner, and Dr. E.B. Henderson, known as the “Grandfather of Black Basketball” for introducing basketball to African Americans in Washington D.C. in 1904, were inducted as NBA contributors.

Read More: Bernard King, Gary Payton, Guy V. Lewis, Jerry Tarkanian
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