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Pitino: Fan base, not the teams, make Kentucky-Louisville rivalry the best

Rick Pitino (Vicky Graff Photo)


After Louisville beat Kentucky Wednesday night, Louisville coach Rick Pitino reflected on whether the UK-Louisville rivalry was the best in college basketball — and his perspective since he had coached both teams.

“I know when I first came to Lexington – the Yankees don’t like the Red Sox and the Red Sox don’t like the Yankees. But, they take it to a new level. And I didn’t quite ā€“ two of my really good friends, Bill Keightly and Marta McMackin, they would get all choked up in tears because ‘you don’t understand what Louisville’s like.’ So, I really didn’t understand it,” Pitino said. “Now Cawood (Ledford) was normal, so I could talk to him.

“What makes it I think the best rivalry ā€“ now you can say that Carolina and Duke are because it’s in the ACC. What makes this rivalry so good is the fan base not the teams.

“Because if you look at Duke, I don’t know the exact percentage, but I’ll bet 20-30 percent are probably from New York, New Jersey, California. Same thing with North Carolina. So they got different fan bases. Here, everybody’s on vacation, (watching) every single TV. We’re the number one market for television in America for college basketball and the draft. And that’s because we’ve got 450,000 Kentucky fans here as well.

“So, we got a great market for TV and everybody lives for this game. Everybody in Carolina and Duke doesn’t live for that game because you’ve also got Wake when they’re good, you got NC State. This is it for us. We’ve got no professional teams and this is it. They’ve dominated us for a while now so it’s good to get a victory.”

1 comment

  1. Speaking of Rick Pitino and his friendship with Bill Keightly, He asked Keightly to go with him to Boston and Keightly turned him down. Rick thought he was bigger than the program. Yes, he has made a a lot of money, a large part of it by ruining the Celtics as their GM/head coach.

    As great as he thinks he is, he won’t be bigger than the program. He won’t be welcome back at Rupp, either, until he is retired from basketball. I can’t blame Pitino for going after more money in the pros, but when he took the UL job, no Cat fan would want him back as coach, even if it was a tiddly wink team.

    And, not only does Kentucky have the better coach in Calipari, but they were lucky not to have Pitino as a coach, when all of his scandals hit. Even though the Cardinals have scoundrel as a head coach, Kentucky has a felon in the rafters of Rupp.

    A tip of the hat to the Cardinal program for the win. If they didn’t win every once in awhile it would cease to be rivalry. Go Cats!

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