Rick Pitino is joining players of Kentucky’s 1996 national championship team this weekend for a get-together to remember that standout year. Only the meeting won’t happen in Lexington. They’ll gather in Miami.
The reason? Pitino, now at Louisville, says it’s him.
Here’s what he said Monday in an interview with Terry Meiners of Kentucky Sports Radio:
“I know why they’re not honoring — they’ll give you a lot of excuses — but it would hurt, it would distract — me as the Louisville coach, would be distracting for all the players. The fans certainly don’t care for me there anymore. Just the older ones who knew me when I was there, and you remember the little boy on the cover of Sports Illustrated that read, ‘Shame’ and all the embarrassment, similar to the embarrassment we’re going through now at Louisville.”
That’s a pretty pointed response. Of course, school officials have the right to choose how they honor their past. Perhaps something else is in store for Kentucky’s 1996 team, Pitino’s lone championship squad with the Wildcats. That’s unclear at the moment.
Still, his comments leave more than a few things to consider.