Rick Pitino is one of college basketball's winningest coaches, but he's doing his best to be remembered as one of the game's sorest losers.
Following Saturday's thriller between Kentucky and Louisville, Pitino appeared to flip off fans as he was exiting the Rupp Arena court. It's not 100% definitive evidence though that Pitino actually did throw up a middle finger, and had he made a good excuse or simply denied it completely, there would have been reasonable doubt that he actually did go as low as to flip off a fan.
But Pitino's explanation of the incident makes him guilty as charged. After the game, Pitino shared a text message with ESPN's Dana O'Neil that said the following:
"No I didn’t flip off the fans. I was in the tunnel. People were yelling ugly crude things that I didn’t like. The 1-8 comment was fine. But the other comments I didn’t like."
Asked whether he gestured in any way toward the crowd, Pitino said, "My recollection was a, ‘we r #1.‘"
First off, no Rick. You're No. 15/16 in the nation and No. 2 in the state of Kentucky. You were No. 1 back in 2013, but this is now almost 2016. Don't live in the past.
Second, that's so bad of an excuse that it was actually worse than actually flipping off a fan. You're assuming we're idiots for even remotely considering that as a viable explanation.
Third, this sadly explains a lot with my fellow Bengals fans when they flip off Steelers players and/or fans, at least when it comes to the playoffs.
The good news is virtually no one is buying it, not even Pitino's closest friends in the national media. The best example of this is Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde, a well-established confidant of Pitino, but not this time. Forde showed no mercy in his latest column on Pitino and his actions Saturday:
Sending out associate coach Ralph Willard to handle the press conference was a colossal copout. Willard has done a few other postgame media ops in Pitino’s place this season – including their only other loss, at Michigan State – but you don’t pull that maneuver here and now. Not after the Kentucky game.
Still, he handled this loss like a thin-skinned 37-year-old – like the guy who came to Kentucky as its coach in 1989 – instead of a 63-year-old Hall of Famer. Which probably has a lot to do with who he lost to.
Pitino always has been one of the world's worst losers, which is a significant reason why he loses so rarely. It clearly eats away at his innards and tends to make him an incredibly hard guy to be around in the hours and days after a loss.
And nothing brings out the sore-loser demon in Pitino more than being defeated by Kentucky. Especially Kentucky coached by John Calipari. Regardless of the pregame grip-and-grin they annually stage, the two men detest each other.
WDRB's Rick Bozich is another noted Piano supporter/Calipari negator, but he also is bringing the heat in his latest column:
When Calipari says the right thing, Pitino does the wrong thing. When Calipari is the gentleman, Pitino is the adolescent. Calipari gets it. Pitino gets himself in messes he should be too wise to create.
In the end, no matter how both coaches comport themselves, Calipari always wins – on the scoreboard (75-73, Saturday in Rupp Arena) and in the Miss Manners' competition (1-0 after Calipari’s eighth win in their last nine meetings).
It's really sad how far Pitino has fallen that even some of his biggest supporters are now calling him out. Then again, the way Pitino is acting, he deserves everything that's coming to him right now.
Thankfully, that does not include a win over Kentucky. He doesn't deserve one, no matter how hard his team fought to win Saturday.
Somebody should tell Pitino he should just shut up. So, after losing to hated UK, he is exiting & telling fans "we are No. 1." Unbelievable!
— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) December 26, 2015