LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is a finalist for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for a second straight year.
Pitino was passed over a year ago, his first as a finalist.
The 12 finalists were announced as part of the NBA's All-Star festivities today in Houston.
Other finalists include: five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, three-time National Coach of the Year Sylvia Hatchell, two-time NBA Championship coach Tom Heinsohn, nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton, five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley and six-time NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond. Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks, four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood, four-time NBA All-Star Bernard King, five-time NCAA Final Four coach Guy Lewis, and four-time NCAA Final Four coach Jerry Tarkanian.
Pitino has received support for induction recently from ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, who said, "There's no way he should not already be in the Hall of Fame. He is a slam dunk, no question about it."
Pitino's official nomination bio:
"Pitino is the only coach in men's history to lead three different schools to NCAA Final Four appearances as he did with Providence College, University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. He led Kentucky to the 1996 National Championship and then reached the title game again with the Wildcats the following year. He has won over 600 games in his collegiate career, reached the Final Four six different times (1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2005 and 2011), led his teams to 21 postseason appearances and won nine conference tournament championships. He earned Coach of the Year honors from different sources three different years. Pitino also held two stints as an NBA head coach with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, leading the Knicks to two playoff appearances."
The Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at the Final Four in April.
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