Before returning to Greece to take over the national team, as well as a return to the club he led in 2018, Panathinaikos, Rick Pitino was not particularly quiet about seeking out both college basketball and NBA jobs. It seems unlikely that the 67-year old Hall of Famer will get another big shot in the U.S., after the various scandals the led to his ouster from Louisville.
One of the teams that Pitino used to lead just opened up. The New York Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale, around 1.5 years into his tenure.
The move has come under fire from major figures around the league, including Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, and San Antonio Spurs legend Gregg Popovich. Given how weak the Knicks’ roster is, most don’t believe the move was very reasonable, even if Fizdale was really struggling in New York.
One of Pitino’s most fervent defenders in the media, even through all of the scandals that have beset him, is ESPN’s Dick Vitale.
He would like to see Pitino make a return to Madison Square Garden.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) December 7, 2019
Rick Pitino served as a Knicks assistant coach from 1983-85, and after a brief stint at Providence, returned to his native New York to be the head coach from 1987-89. He led the team to the Playoffs in both seasons, topping out at 52-30 in 1988-89 with a trip to the conference semifinals. That brief tenure was much more successful than a very rough 3+ years with the Boston Celtics from 1997-2001.
If there’s any franchise that could make a desperation hire, it is the Knicks, but a Pitino return to the NBA seems very, very unlikely.