Rick Pitino Rumors
That summer, Pitino took the head-coaching job at University of Kentucky, where he later won a national championship. His Knicks’ 3-point-attempts record would stand untouched until five seasons later, when the Houston Rockets won back-to-back titles in the mid-90s, in part by embracing the shortened 3-point line. “In the beginning, everybody thought I was a mad scientist,” Pitino says of his use of the 3-pointer. “In the end, everybody realized how potent a weapon it was.”
“I think Billy and I have spoken about it over 30 or 40 times,” Pitino told Rome. “He’s very inquisitive and a very humble person and he’ll ask a lot of questions. I said, ‘Look, Billy, I really loved coaching the New York Knicks, and the reason I loved it is we won. I really did not like my Boston Celtic experience because we lost. Just don’t go into a situation where you’re hoping on the ping-pong balls falling your way. Go into a situation where you know you have players. Sort of like what Phil Jackson and Pat Riley have done in their career. Don’t leave college unless you can do that.’ He went into the perfect situation, perfect organization because of (Kevin) Durant, (Russell) Westbrook and the rest of those guys are all (a) very, very young basketball [team]. Billy Donovan is one of the best coaches and finest people I’ve ever encountered in my life so I know he’s going to do great.”
The reason didn’t matter. What did were the terms of the deal he signed and who he signed it with: a $1.275 million contract to play a single 30-35 game season for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. That’s $1.275 million, mostly tax-free, for five months of work. Moreover, the season ends in March, allowing him plenty of time to prep for next June’s NBA draft. It’s a lot more than tuition, room and board offered by SMU and more than enough to spin heads all over the recruiting trail. “I think the new snack money will convince kids to go to school,” joked Louisville coach Rick Pitino as he watched the AAU Nationals here earlier this month, referencing the NCAA initiative to provide unlimited food to players. “We’ve got free Power Bars,” he continued.