Skip to content

Rick Pitino regrets leaving Kentucky for Boston Celtics, all based on getting Tim Duncan

Feb 22, 2013, 10:54 PM EST

NCAA Final Four Kentucky Louisville Basketball

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has had his greatest success as a college coach, despite two different stints in the NBA. He’s the first coach in NCAA history to take three teams to the Final Four. He captured a national title for Kentucky in 1996. After the next year he took another shot at the NBA, accepting the head coaching job for the Boston Celtics.

That is a decision Pitino told 790 The Ticket in Miami that he shouldn’t have left Big Blue Nation for Boston.

“I think I do regret leaving Kentucky because I took over a team with 15 wins banking everything on the Tim Duncan lottery, and once we didn’t get Tim Duncan I realized that leaving Kentucky was not a good move,” said Pitino.

In 1997, Duncan was taken by the San Antonio Spurs. The Celtics took Chauncey Billups with the third overall pick, followed by Ron Mercer three picks later.

Pitino was 102-146 in four years with the Celtics. He was 219-50 in eight seasons at Kentucky. Since joining the Cardinals in 2001, Pitino is 296-111. The current Louisville coach was more successful in his first NBA job, coaching the New York Knicks from 1987-1989.

“I loved going to the Knicks because we won the Atlantic Division championship,” he said. “We went from winning 21 games or 19 games to winning 52 games in a short period of time. I loved coaching Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley and all those guys.”

Recently, Pitino was announced as a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Latest Posts
  1. Bubble Banter: Davidson with a big win, Stanford in trouble, and … VCU?

    Mar 6, 2015, 1:34 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    All of the bubble winners and losers from Thursday.

  2. Late Night Snacks: North Florida, USC Upstate advance to Atlantic Sun title game

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:23 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    No. 6 Wisconsin is the outright Big Ten champion, and Delaware State’s Kendall Gray went off for 33 points and 30 rebounds.

  3. Draft age limit to be a major issue for NBA, college basketball in near future

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:34 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    With the NBA and NBPA having different views on the limit, college basketball can only wait and see what happens.

  4. Injured Kansas forward’s status will be re-evaluated next week

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:36 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The only sure thing at this point is that Perry Ellis won’t be on the floor when the Jayhawks visit No. 15 Oklahoma Saturday.

  5. NCAA announces upgrade to its replay and timekeeping systems for men’s and women’s tournaments

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:44 PM EST

    NCAA NCAA

    DVSport will handle the video replay technology, with Precision Timing Systems handling the timekeeping.

  6. Concussion to sideline UNLV freshman guard for Saturday’s regular season finale

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:38 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Patrick McCaw has been one of UNLV’s most consistent players this season, but he’ll have to miss Saturday’s game at San Jose State.

  7. Report: Duke not currently investigating Rasheed Sulaimon

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:56 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    This situation seems certain to end up in a mess.

  8. Pregame Shootaround: No. 6 Wisconsin, two other ranked teams hit the road

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:13 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Both Wisconsin and No. 5 Arizona can wrap up outright conference titles with wins Thursday night.

  9. Indiana’s AD backs Tom Crean, calls hot seat speculation ‘ridiculous’

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    I don’t think any Indiana fans are listening at this point.

  10. West Coast Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:31 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    After winning yet another regular season title, Gonzaga looks to win its third consecutive WCC tournament crown.

  11. Film Session: Who can actually beat Kentucky and why

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:05 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    I’ve been asked the question enough. Here are the answers.

  12. CAA Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Marcus Thornton (Getty Images) Marcus Thornton (Getty Images)

    The CAA will be the nations most wide-open conference tournament.

  13. Southern Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Karl Cochran (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Can Wofford reach their second straight NCAA tournament?

  14. Vermont honors hospitalized recruit with #JoshStrong shirts (PHOTOS)

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:57 AM EST

    Vermont Athletics Vermont Athletics

    Josh Speidel is still in the hospital as he deals with a serious brain injury stemming from a car accident last month.

  15. Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle starts five walk-ons on Senior Night

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:51 AM EST

    Wayne Tinkle AP

    The catch: None of them were actually seniors.

  16. Potential NCAA tournament bid thieves bubble teams should be rooting against

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:53 AM EST

    Ryan Boatright (Getty Images) Ryan Boatright (Getty Images)

    These eight teams can steal an automatic bid in conferences that will get at-large bids.

  17. Late Night Snacks: Bubble teams Pittsburgh, LSU and Tulsa suffer home losses

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:22 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Neither the Panthers nor the Tigers did themselves any favors Wednesday night, with Pittsburgh’s home loss being the costlier of the two defeats.

  18. Bubble Banter: Why LSU losing is bad news for Texas A&M

    Mar 4, 2015, 11:59 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    All of Wednesday’s relevant bubble info can be found right here.