The Union Recorder

Local Sports

April 9, 2013

Maybe the best week a coach ever had

ATLANTA — Someday soon, Rick Pitino is going to have to explain to his grandkids how he got his first and only tattoo.

But before that, he's going to tell them the story of how getting into the Hall of Fame might have been only the second best thing that happened to him on a serendipitous Monday in April.

Because barely 12 hours after Pitino became a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in sports, he did something no college basketball coach had ever done. He won a second national championship as Louisville beat Michigan 82-76, a victory that made him the only coach to take two different schools to the top of the heap.

It came 17 years after Pitino's 1996 title at Kentucky, and that squad was loaded with seven future NBA players. This team was less about pure talent and more about grit.

"Probably the 13 toughest guys I ever coached," Pitino said afterward. "It's always the players who put a coach in the Hall of Fame."

The payback, Pitino revealed, is that he has to commemorate that toughness by getting a tattoo.

"They said if you win the national championship, coach, you are getting a tattoo. I said, 'Hell yeah,'" the 60 year-old coach laughed. "I'm getting a tattoo. I owe them."

Frankly, deciding which of the events of the last week of his life to etch in ink won't be easy. Pitino is on such a run, in fact, you'd be tempted to tell him to rush out and bet on a horse while he's at it.

But hold that thought, because Pitino has already done that — and his horse won that race, too.

Just last Saturday, a thoroughbred Pitino owns by the name of Goldencents captured the Santa Anita Derby, one of the most important prep races on the road to the Kentucky Derby. And just a few days before that, his son, Richard, moved into the top flight of his father's profession, leaving Florida International to take over at Minnesota.

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