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Rick Pitino and John Calipari have a long history. It dates back to the 1970s, when the latter attended a basketball camp at which the former was a participant, and continues into the present day.
Pitino helped Calipari get his first head coaching job at UMass and they have played against each other more than 30 times in both college and the NBA. It is one of the best rivalries in basketball.
The two coaches have the utmost respect for one another as old friends with a relationship anchored in trust, mentorship and opportunity. At the same time, though, Calipari and Pitino share a deep-rooted, on-court hatred. And the hatred might out-weight the respectful friendship.
Calipari owns the head-to-head record 8-2 over the course of their last 10 meetings, 21-16 all-time, and 15-12 as head coaches. They have not played each other since Dec. 21, 2016, when Louisville beat Kentucky by three.
According to Pitino, 70, he has somewhere between six and 12 years left before retirement. That gives somewhere between six and 12 years for the two rival coaches to get back on the court together. It would require a non-conference game to be scheduled, for the two to meet in an early-season tournament, or for the two to matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
Should that happen, it would be the first meeting between Calipari and Pitino with Pitino as head coach of St. John’s. He was introduced at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday and came out hot.
Following his first press conference with the Red Storm, Pitino made a fiery defense of his controversial past on SportsCenter. He continues to deny any wrongdoings and points to the lack of punishment by the NCAA as proof.
Rick Pitino also turned aim toward John Calipari.
A direct shot was fired. There was no subtlety involved. Zero.
Pitino is the only coach to win a national title at two different schools, one of two coaches to take three different schools to the Final Four, and one of four coaches to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament. The only other coach to reach the Final Four with three different programs is Calipari.
Pitino wants to put himself in a league of his own and get to another Final Four with a fourth school.
The current age of the transfer portal allows first-year coaches to find more success than ever before. They can instantaneously acquire top talent with experience instead of recruiting high schoolers and waiting for those players to develop.
In turn, Pitino believes that he can win right away with the Red Storm. From there, he has anywhere between five and 11 years to get back to the Final Four to surpass Calipari!
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