Since arriving at Louisville in 2001, Rick Pitino has been open about the fact that he regrets leaving the University of Kentucky for the NBA back in 1997. It's a stance that is more than understandable given his subsequent struggles with the Boston Celtics, but one which Cardinal fans would just as soon not hear about.
Now the front man for U of L hoops is singing a slightly different tune.
When speaking during the Mid-South ACG Capital Connection in Louisville last week, Pitino called bolting from Lexington the greatest move he ever made. Not because he dislikes the program or because he was tired of teaching the members of his fan base how to tie a tie, but because the move resulted in him finding humility and eventually happiness later in life.
"People always ask me the question, 'do you regret leaving Kentucky?'" Pitino said. "'If you didn't leave, you'd have a thousand wins today.' I say 'no.' The greatest move I ever made was leaving Kentucky. The second greatest move I ever made was failing in Boston. Because if I didn't go through those two experiences, I wouldn't have gained humility."
He went on to talk about how the humility gained after his failed stint in the NBA resulted in the happiness he enjoys today, a state which he believes has a direct correlation to the increased success his recent teams have had.
Pitino also discussed the current state of things at U of L, and the confidence currently permeating throughout the program.
"Right now we think we here at Louisville have something special," Pitino said. "We not only have 'Louisville First,' we not only have a lot of happiness because we won a national championship, but we prosper right now because we truly believe when we wake up the next morning that we're going to do this again. We truly believe that we're going to win this again. And we know how difficult it is. We've only won three in this glorious tradition at the University of Louisville, but we believe we're going to do it again."
Here's the relevant chunk of Pitino's speech:
Summer of Rick rolls on.