Pitino looks doomed to fight ghosts
“You’re fighting ghosts, basically,” Rick Pitino said on the phone this afternoon.
He was talking about recent rumors that he was interested in the Sacramento Kings’ coaching job, but it could apply to just about any job rumor.
For the record, Pitino said he is not going to the Kings. He said he will be the University of Louisville men’s basketball coach next season. He said he hasn’t spoken with the Kings, that no one has spoken with the Kings on his behalf and that the Kings have not contacted him. He denied an ESPN report that someone from his “camp” had approached the Kings. He even denied having a camp.
He said he is not interested in an NBA job, that he is interested only in winning a national championship in the job he has.
“You don’t know where it’s stemming from,” Pitino said of the reports. “. . . I haven’t spoken to an NBA team about anything but T-Will (Terrence Williams) or Earl (Clark) since the year has ended.”
So Pitino becomes a Ghostbuster. He talks to recruits who wonder what’s going on. He issues statement after statement until the next rumor hits, when another statement is required.
“Any time a rumor that’s not true gets started, you’ve got to immediately now call,” he said.
This is Pitino’s problem. With the departure of son Richard for Florida and Pitino bringing extortion charges that resulted in a federal indictment against the estranged wife of the U of L team’s equipment manager – and the subsequent chattering that came with that – and then rumors such as this one, an appearance of uncertainty builds. And uncertainty, Pitino knows, is poison on the recruiting trail.
Yesterday he said he can’t comment on the issues that resulted in him contacting authorities in the extortion case. He has maintained a lower-than-usual profile, it could be said, the past several weeks. But you can’t do that for long against the high-profile competition he’s facing now.
“They’re going to say, ‘Because of some of the issues that Rick’s dealing with right now, maybe he wants a fresh start,'” Pitino said. “That’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
. . . The rest of this column will be available in Sunday morning’s paper or at courier-journal.com