Rick Pitino Rumors
Coaching legend Rick Pitino, Vogel’s top mentor and current head coach at Iona, thinks his former Kentucky student manager and graduate assistant is the perfect match for the Lake Show. “It’s a player’s league, and he’s with two of the top five players,” Pitino told The Post. “Frank is the perfect coach for those two guys and the team. He’s going to do all his work behind the scenes, get them ready, never be on camera, never get any credit. “And he wants it that way. His perfect scenario is them winning a championship, never mention his name and get ready for next season.”
If there’s a recipe to allow two superstars like James and Davis to be their best selves, Vogel, a South Jersey product, has it. Vogel’s Lakers posted a 52-19 record, tops in the Western Conference. And nobody has been able to challenge them during the four playoff rounds. “We had lunch when he first got the job in ,’’ Pitino said. “He loved LeBron. I watched LeBron at his early practice. LeBron was like having another assistant coach on the floor.… Frank loved LeBron in film sessions and practice, said it’s like having another coach. He was all in with him, said it’s great for a team having his basketball acumen off the charts. “He’s perfect for LeBron,” Pitino added. “He’ll go up at a press conference and never say a negative word about his players. In the NBA, you don’t knock a player in a press conference. Frank is perfect for that with LeBron and AD.”
In September 2000, Pierce had not yet made an All-Star Game or qualified for the playoffs. A championship ring seemed like a fantasy. In Pierce and Walker, the Celtics were hopeful they had two players to build around, but they were just barely getting started together. Then on Sept. 25, Pierce, just 22, was stabbed. In the days after, Connor said, Pitino organized a trip to the hospital to visit Pierce. “Everybody went,” Connor said. “And it was very tough. When I had gone down, there was already some light at the end of the tunnel. So that made it easier. But then you’re thinking, this guy, how is he going to resume his career? What’s he going to end up being? But he just looked inside. I remember (Pitino) just being so excited about his toughness. And that’s what bailed Paul out: his own toughness.”
Bryant basked in the attention, took a handful of campus visits, pretended he was genuinely torn over what to do next. He liked to show off all the recruiting letters he received and proudly stiffed Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, failing to show up for a scheduled visit to campus. He acted as if college were a legitimate option. Only it really wasn’t. Because he had never signed with an agent or accepted so much as a dime from a sneaker company, he remained eligible should he change his mind. But he wasn’t changing his mind. The recruiting letters ultimately found themselves at rest alongside half-eaten burgers and empty yogurt containers in the Bryant family trash bins.
Rick Pitino: Not only was Thibs a great hire but Kenny Payne was as well. Great teacher and communicator. Obviously it takes players to turn around our Knicks but the pieces will fall into place. Great moves at the top as well as coaches!