Pitino highlights class of 12 into Naismith Hall
Rick Pitino got the phone call of a lifetime and an incredible text at the same time.
ATLANTA -- Rick Pitino got the phone call of a lifetime and an incredible text at the same time.
On Wednesday, John Doleva, the president of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, called seven people to tell them they would be in the class of 2013.
Pitino was one of the seven.
"When I got the call I was trying to call my wife over so she could hear it, and I'm trying to put it on speaker phone, and a text keeps beeping as I'm getting this special call," Pitino said Monday just hours before he led Louisville to victory against Michigan in the national championship game. "I saw the text. 'Go Gophers. I got the job.'"
It was his son, Richard, who had just found out he was chosen to be the head coach at Minnesota.
If that wasn't enough, Pitino also received a $2.7 million bonus on Monday -- the accumulation of three years of deferred bonuses. If the Cardinals win Monday night, he'll get another $150,000, pushing his earnings over $6 million this season.
It's been that kind of week for Pitino, who is among 12 people overall who will join the class of 2013.
The others announced Monday at a ceremony at the Final Four were college coaches Guy Lewis of Houston, Jerry Tarkanian of UNLV and Sylvia Hatchell of North Carolina, former NBA stars Bernard King and Gary Payton and former University of Virginia star Dawn Staley.
Former NBA star Spencer Haywood did not make it, contrary to local reports last week saying he had been voted in.
The inductions will take place in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 8.
Inductees announced previously were: Edwin E.B. Henderson, a direct elect by the Early African Pioneer Committee; longtime Indiana Pacers guard Roger Brown; Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, the leading scorer in Olympic history; Richie Guerin, a star for the New York Knicks in the 1950s; and Russ Granik, a longtime assistant commissioner of the NBA.
It was Pitino, however, who stole the show.
His Cardinals won the national championship Monday night, making him the first coach to win a title at two schools. He won it all with Kentucky in 1996.
On Saturday, Goldencents, a horse that Pitino co-owns, won the Santa Anita Derby, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby.
"I was looking around for lightning," Pitino joked. "This was such a special moment."
Pitino, the only coach to take three schools to the Final Four, has won 661 games in 28 seasons as a college coach, and his 47-16 record in the NCAA tournament is the third-highest winning percentage among active coaches.
He also had two stints in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and Knicks.
When he was a young assistant with the Knicks from 1983-85, Pitino forged a relationship with King, one of the most feared scorers in his playing days.
"I remember Rick as a very young coach, a coach starting his career, a coach who knew the game," said King, who averaged 22 points in his 15-year NBA career, including averaging 34.8 points in the 1984 NBA playoffs. "I remember Rick came with me to the NBA All-Star Game and we were flying from Denver to San Antonio. We talked a lot about that even though we had some injuries, we had to get off to a good start.
"That first game in San Antonio I scored 50 points. The next day in Dallas I had a milkshake and a turkey sandwich and scored 50 points again. I guess you can say this is the culmination of my life in basketball."
Payton was known as "The Glove" for his defensive prowess in his years with the Seattle SuperSonics. He was a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
"I was an offensive-minded guy when I went to Oregon State, and coach Ralph Miller pulled me to the side and said, 'You'll be one of the greatest defensive point guards ever,' and I said to myself, 'Yeah right. I'm shooting every time I get the ball.' I got really good at it and started liking it and took it from there," Payton said.
Haywood, a four-time All-Star for the Sonics in the 1970s who was in attendance at the Final Four over the weekend, said he had been told earlier in the week by "someone in the NBA" that he was in.
Al Ross, Haywood's longtime friend and former agent, had informed several media outlets that Haywood would be among Monday's inductees.
"This is so embarrassing," Haywood said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "My stomach has been so bad I can't eat, I can't sleep. This isn't a punch in the stomach. It's below the stomach."
Tarkanian took three schools to the NCAA tournament, but he will always be known for his teams at UNLV that made four Final Four appearances and won it all in 1990.
Hatchell joins North Carolina men's coaches Dean Smith and Roy Williams as Hall of Famers. She is one of three women's coaches to record 900 victories and has won national championships on three levels -- AIAW, NAIA and NCAA.
Staley was a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a five-time WNBA All-Star and two-time national college player of the year with the Cavaliers. She is the only player in women's college basketball to record 2,000 points, 700 assists and 400 steals.
Information from ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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