First of all, let me say that I am not a fan of Rick Pitino at this particular point in time. For better or worse, he is the coach of the Louisville Cardinals, and for Kentucky fans, Louisville is the enemy (in a rivalry sort of way). That makes Rick Pitino the "enemy" as well.
With all that said, there are several undisputed facts that must not be ignored:
- Rick Pitino is a legendary basketball coach;
- Despite his many flaws, he is a nice man who deserves respect;
- He is an expert in basketball, and a recognized expert motivator;
- Rick Pitino is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, something very few coaches ever get to be.
So these two radio talking heads in Boston, a certain Fred Toucher & John Wallach, invited Pitino onto their sports show, intending to ask him some rather pointed questions. That's certainly within the bounds of reason — nobody is entitled to a softball interview, and grilling Pitino on whatever subject is certainly fair game.
What they did, however, was this:
Fred: We are joined by Rick Pitino, former coach of the Celtics, current coach of the Louisville Cardinals who won the national championship. Rick Pitino, hello!
Pitino: Morning, guys.
Fred: You stink. You ruined the Celtics.
Fred then hung up and began "The Stack" segment, and the interview was over.
I get it that sports shows are supposed to be edgy, and that pulling gags on guests is part of the whole shtick. But this was a bridge too far even for me, and unless Pitino agreed to be invited on and rudely dismissed, it is one of the least funny and most unethical things I have ever heard of, not to mention being just plain wrong. One of the primary ways to evaluate ethical behavior is the Golden Rule — Toucher plainly failed that test hands down and in every conceivable way.
Pitino did not "ruin" the Celtics, although he clearly didn't work out there. He isn't the only coach that came to Boston and failed, either, and many of the ones who have been there aren't in the hall of fame as coaches and never will be: Jimmy Rogers, Chris Ford, and Jim O'Brien all come to mind.
So to say Pitino ruined the Celtics is factually wrong. He failed as Celtics coach, but that's happened before. Alvin Julian is in the Hall of Fame as coach, and he never made the playoffs as coach of Boston.
There are 3 Celtics coaches currently in the Basketball Hall of Fame: Julian, Red Auerbach, and Rick Pitino. Wouldn't you think that would earn you more than a rude dismissal by a Boston radio talker?
Apparently not. Dear Boston radio guys: You suck, because you just do.
UPDATE: DeCourcy calls it a "tasteless joke." That flatters it unmercifully.
UPDATE: Jeff Eisenberg has a different take, essentially, "all publicity is good publicity." Probably right.