Rick Pitino will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Sept. 6.
ATLANTA (WDRB) – Rick Pitino's Magical Monday followed the expected script: The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame introduced Pitino as a member of its 2013 class during at announcement at the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Atlanta.
"It's very humbling," Pitino said. "Your mind is racing. You have 100 people that helped you arrive at this moment ... I don't think as a coach you think of those things (like making the Hall). With athletes you can sort of look at your point total, your rebounds. But as a coach you just never quite think about this."
Pitino will enter the Hall on Sept. 6 with two retired college coaches – Jerry Tarkanian of UNLV and Guy Lewis of Houston – as well as Bernard King, who played for Pitino with the New York Knicks and Gary Payton, an NBA all-star guard with the Seattle Supersonics.
Pitino will receive his Hall of Fame ring during the enshrinement ceremony at the Mohegan Sun and Resort Casino in Uncasville, Conn. That is the first day of a three-day celebration sponsored by the Hall, which is located in Springfield, Mass. He will have to choose a current Hall of Famer to present him at the ceremony.
Speaking during the announcement ceremony in Atlanta Monday morning, Pitino credited his players for the recognition. He called his Hall of Fame election "a pretty special distraction" as the University of Louisville prepares to play a national championship game against the University of Michigan. The honor presented a schedule crunch if nothing else. The Hall of Fame announcement came less than 90 minutes before his team was scheduled for its final shoot around in the Georgia Dome.
It also capped a week in which Pitino brought his team to the Final Four and his son, Richard, was named the head coach at the University of Minnesota. In fact, Pitino said that when he received the confirmation from the Hall last Wednesday, he was also receiving a text message from Richard that read: Go Gophers!
"I certainly don't deserve this good fortune," Pitino said. "We have one more game to play, which is kind of exciting. All of this is such a great time so you just don't lay around the hotel and just keep thinking about the game til 9:23."
Many basketball observers have argued that Pitino had earned a spot in the Hall several years ago, but he has sealed his credentials this season by leading the University of Louisville into the championship game of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals are favored to defeat Michigan for the title Monday night in the Georgia Dome.
Pitino will try to become only the 14th coach to win two or more NCAA basketball titles, but the first to win at two schools. He won his first championship at Kentucky in 1996. This is his seventh appearance in the NCAA Final Four. Only John Wooden of UCLA (12), Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (11) and Dean Smith of North Carolina (11) have made more.
In 28 seasons as a college coach, Pitino has built a 663-239 record, going 309-111 in a dozen seasons at Louisville.
Other members of the class are North Carolina women's coach Sylvia Hatchell; former women's player of the year Dawn Staley; Indiana Pacer Roger Brown; Brazilian Olympic star Oscar Schmidt; contributor to the game Dr. E.B. Henderson; Richie Guerin, who played and coached in the NBA and former NBA administrator Russ Granik.