Stand For Coach P: More Than Basketball

Rick Pitino

Times are hard.

That may be a bit of an understatement really, but it sums it up pretty well.  The worst thing about hard times, however, is the way that they make all of the people involved second guess everything in hopes of returning to the way things were before times became hard.  This is natural and I, for one,  pass no judgement.  In a time of despair people make rash decisions or don’t look at the big picture moving forward.  On cartoons, the character tricked into drinking ACME Hot Sauce immediately guzzles the bottle marked ‘Water’ that turns out to be something to make the heat even stronger. When they finally get water, it unknowingly makes  it even worse. The problem is obvious, they acted immediately to rid the burn from the hot sauce and did not stop to think about what could go wrong.

A more real world example is seen in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy.  Many laws are drafted as a direct response to something that happened in an area or to a group of people and the people making the call put the best solution to the problem that is right in front of them.  The issue with this method is that sometimes proposed laws are shortsighted and we end up with unintended consequences, things that were not meant to happen but due to our actions they are a direct or indirect result.

I know the question is what does this have to do with Coach P? I am sure if you are reading this you have heard rumors about senior night possibly being the last of Coach P at Yum! and him either stepping down or being asked to step down at the end of the season (or as early as Thursday) to get this mess even further behind us.

I would hate this decision and urge anyone reading this to consider a few things and support Coach P.  Coach leaving could have so many unintended consequences that it would be impossible to name them all but I did want to elaborate on a few instances of how this is much more than just about basketball.

Maker of Men

Coach Pitino is a maker of men. Look at the players who have come through these doors over his tenure.  Look at the people they are when they enter and the people who graduate. Rick Pitino is a strict, old school, well-meaning disciplinarian who expects the best out of his players on and off the court.  Look at the players who have left the program early. They did this not because they were bad players or bad people, but a lot of them did not want to grow into the person he demanded they be. He wants his players to be ‘ Louisville Men’ which to me means humble, hard-working, team first, did I say hard-working? He wants them to do much more than score points and get steals.  He wants them to get good grades and learn to respect each other and themselves. Which leads me to..

Life Beyond Basketball

Coach Pitino has coached in the NBA.  He knows what it takes to succeed at the next level and he knows how unlikely or how minuscule the chance to make it to the NBA is and he wants his players to know that there are many other ways to go pro besides in basketball.  I read in a few interviews that Coach Pitino requires players to meet with him regularly to have non-basketball discussion and relationship building.  He wants to know them as people and prepare them for their futures no matter what it is.  He knows who can have  shot in the league and he knows who should begin planning for life overseas or life in an office.  With that in mind, he lets them know what courses to take in school and ways that they can learn business principles and how to go pro in the business world.

Luke Hancock

Photo: CardinalSportsZone

Prime recent examples are 2013 MOP from the Final Four Luke Hancock and Mike Marra.  Luke made a bid for the NBA and landed in some camps and got workouts.  When those things ended, Luke used his skills developed in school and life lessons from Coach P, and transitioned into a pro career as a Financial Planner for a well-respected firm in Louisville.  Mike Marra’s injury plagued career took a similar route and now he is a successful planner as well.

Coach Pitino cares a lot more about what his players can do as people and teaches them how to be respectful members of society. I know some naysayer (probably rhymes with ‘hat clones’ will read this and bring up Katina and Andre and laugh at the phrase respectful member of society being used to describe Louisville players but it is true. A rogue former player idiot  does not define a program or the accomplishments of all the others.  For ever ignorant Andre, there are 20 amazing ambassadors like Peyton Siva who is one of the greatest people to ever be on this campus.

Which gets me to my last point which happens to be a very personal point to me.

Rick Cares About His Community

Rick Pitino is not the monster running a sex-club that the Dan Dakitches of the world want you to believe.  Rick Pitino is a very caring and generous person who is using his blessings to bless others in ways you all probably have no idea.  That is because he doesn’t post it on twitter like some coaches and he doesn’t make a show about his good deeds. The Christian way is to do good deeds and be humble and not boast.  Coach is the embodiment of that mantra. Who knows what these pictures are from?

Those pictures are from the Daniel Pitino Homeless shelter in Owensboro KY in memory of his late son and back towards my old neck of the woods.  Few people know that this thing exists and  I personally that they do AMAZING work for those unfortunate enough to live there.

Unlike other shelters, families get a little room to stay in so they aren’t split up. Kids get clothes and toys for christmas.  Kids get tickets to Louisville games or Louisville events and they provide transportation to get here because if you are there you probably don’t have a car. They help get you on your feet and back together to move forward in your life.  This is something Coach Pitino started.  This is the Rick Pitino I know.  This is the legacy I will always remember, not this crap that is going around right now. And for that reason I say there is no other person I’d want to be behind in these trying times than Rick Pitino.

Stand By Him

Do we really want to lose someone who cares so much about his city, his university, his players so much? Do we want to lose someone who uses his platform to not only develop outstanding basketball players but outstanding people? The hard truth, ladies and gents, is that if we lose Coach P, we may lose a lot of things that make this university community great.  Yes, we will still be good people, but there are so many things going on that we have no idea but we are the direct beneficiaries of.

I don’t want to become a university that cares only about winning basketball games and what outsiders think of our program.  I want to stay the university that develops and cultivates greatness even if it looks unimpressive in terms of recruiting rankings and NBA draft picks.  I like being a part of a university producing top life draft picks. (Note: that is not a shot at UK or Cal, but rather how ESPN and other perceive our program based on those stats)

I remember going through some hard times my first year in Law School and I read his book Rebound Rules. A takeaway from that book is that things happen in life…we take the hit and we rebound…we move forward and go further than before.  I say we rebound from this and I personally don’t care if that means taking another tournament ban if that means we get to keep Pitino around moving forward.  I know that view is not popular but I see the whole picture and know we are best if we have our leader. The present is not beautiful but the future is VERY bright.  Look at this team coming back plus the recruiting class coming in (btw that could be another unintended consequence)

I know senior night will be about Lewis and Lee, and rightfully so, but we need to also take time this week, maybe organize something to show our support for the man who literally has Louisville tattooed on his skin.I am open to ideas on what to do to convince him to stay.  It has been suggested that fans camp out somewhere and show support.  Maybe holding a demonstration on campus or around the Yum! Seriously someone get something going to show Coach P how much he is appreciated. I wish I knew him or his people so that I could personally thank him for all he does but I don’t and hope that we can all do something to show appreciation.

Times are hard at our fair university but I personally feel we are best served with our captain being allowed to help right the ship.


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