"Pitino: My Story" hits the shelves Tuesday, and in its 257 pages, former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino offers a book that is partly a memoir and partly an impassioned defense to the tumultuous end of his tenure with the Cardinals.
Pitino's account of those past few years was laced with bitterness and resentment to what he views as a series of injustices toward him – from the NCAA, the FBI and the leadership of the University of Louisville.
Such an ending contrasted with the first portions of the book, which offered anecdotes and an entertaining look back through Pitino's remarkable career in basketball.
Whether Pitino will coach again (this, too, is addressed in the book) may be uncertain, but perhaps to that end, this is a work of a man clearly seeking to restore his reputation by offering a deep dive into his side of the story. In doing so, perhaps Pitino, as he wrote, can find peace in the circumstances.
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"I don't want to create a never-ending bitterness," Pitino wrote near the book's end. "It's time to let go. It's judgment time. I've told the truth in this book. Now the big questions are whether Andre McGee, Jordan Fair or the people facing trails and possible jail time will tell the truth."
1. Sticking to his story on scandals and staff members
While Pitino offered a great deal of fresh and interesting background on Louisville's recent NCAA infractions case and the sport's ongoing FBI investigation, there was no new admission on his part for either scandal.
Pitino continued to emphatically insist he wasn't aware of the actions of former U of L basketball staffer Andre McGee and former U of L assistant coach Jordan Fair. He claimed responsibility for the mistake of hiring the two staff members, but he blamed each for acting on his own accord, McGee in his dealings with Katina Powell and Fair in the Las Vegas hotel-room meeting the FBI alleged was to conspire to pay a recruit.
"This may sound crazy," Pitino wrote, "but I'm actually more upset with Jordan Fair than I am at Andre McGee. Andre's actions were inexplicable and so out of character that I sometimes wonder if he was a sociopath or being blackmailed. I have no idea. Jordan, on the other hand, was repeatedly taught to follow the absolute letter of the law with regard to recruiting regulations. … So the fact that he met with a roomful of scam artists is completely infuriating. Was he led astray by con men? Quite possibly. But he should have never been in that situation in the first place."
2. Brian Bowen's recruitment
Pitino repeated his previous claims that landing a late commitment from five-star recruit Brian Bowen, the player at the center of Louisville's involvement in the FBI hoops investigation, was a happy accident.
"How come you haven't decided on a school this late in the process?" Pitino said he asked Bowen in the spring of 2017, shortly before Bowen committed to Louisville in June.
Pitino said Bowen replied that he had been leaning toward Arizona until two top players decided to return to school instead of going to the NBA. Bowen said he thought he would have a better chance of more playing time at Louisville.
"At no time did I think he was the type of person that wanted anything outside of a scholarship," Pitino wrote.
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In a Friday interview with the Courier Journal, Pitino described Bowen's trip to campus as a "typical unofficial visit."
The Bowen family and Dawkins drove six hours from Michigan to Louisville. According to Pitino, Bowen's father paid for the family's lunch and for Dawkins' lunch at Griff's. Pitino said they asked him questions about basketball and how much playing time Bowen would get.
"They never once alluded to anything to lead me to think they were looking for something," Pitino said. "Everything was above board. They didn't ask for anything. The mom was a delightful lady, the young man was a delightful young man. Still to this day I don't believe the young man or the mom knew anything about what was going on."
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