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Rick Pitino on John Calipari: “He’s smarter than me.”

John Calipari (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

Rick Pitino doesn’t think John Calipari will leave Lexington anytime soon and added the Kentucky coach is in it for the long haul.

“I think when you coach at Kentucky, you have the premier job in college basketball — in terms of he can recruit any player he wants, he has unbelievable facilities, he’s gonna win his 30 games every year, and he’s got the best job in all of basketball,” Pitino said in an interview with New York Post columnist Steve Serby. “So, I’m not sure why he would ever want to have a job that’s not the best job in all of basketball. He’s smarter than me when it comes to that.”

Pitino, recently hired as the coach at Iona, led the Wildcats an NCAA title and a runner-up finish in his seven seasons in Lexington before leaving to become President and Coach of the Boston Celtics in 1997. Pitino compiled a 219-50 mark at Kentucky and then went to Louisville following a short stint in Boston.

Pitino had Kansas, Gonzaga, Dayton and possibly Kentucky as his Final Four picks before the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If they would (have) put Kentucky in the East I would have gone with probably Kentucky, because they were really starting to play better,” he said.

Although his run at Louisville was tarnished by a recruiting scandal, Pitino said he wants to be “ the people I coached, and the people that worked under me.”

“If you want to know what I’m all about, call up Mark Jackson, call up Billy Donovan, call up Jeff Van Gundy, call up Francisco Garcia, Jamal Mashburn.” I’ve been in business with Jamal Mashburn for over 30 years together, and he played for me. Call up the people that played for me. Then call up the 30 assistant coaches that are head coaches that worked under me. And let me be judged by them.”

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Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at or twitter @keithtaylor21.

1 comment

  1. Pitino is now trying the old image rebuilding process. It will work for some. Iona bought into it.

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