Rick Pitino will coach Greece’s nationwide workforce because it tries to qualify for Olympics

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Rick Pitino introduced Friday on Twitter that he would be the subsequent coach of the Greek nationwide basketball workforce.

Louisville fired Pitino simply earlier than the beginning of the 2017-18 school basketball season amid a federal investigation into the varsity’s function in a pay-to-play operation involving a prime recruit and Adidas, the sneaker firm that sponsors the Cardinals’ athletic program. Pitino by no means was charged and has denied wrongdoing. In September, he and Louisville settled dueling lawsuits over his departure (the varsity modified the designation within the former coach’s personnel file to think about it a resignation, and Pitino obtained no cash for breach of contract).

Earlier this 12 months, the 67-year-old Pitino led Panathinaikos to the Greek Basketball Cup title, although he stepped down as coach and workforce president in June to pursue a job within the NBA. While with Panathinaikos, he criticized followers of the membership for smoking and lighting flares throughout video games, calling the environment “awful.”

Really honored to be teaching the Greek National workforce. Have quite a lot of work and preparation forward however I’m trying ahead to the problem.

— Rick Pitino (@ActualPitino) November 8, 2019

“I smoke cigars on a golf course but there’s nobody else around,” Pitino stated. “But you’re in an arena and 10,000 are smoking and the players are choking. So, sooner or later, you’ve got to say: ‘Hey man, we’re at an athletic event and I’m going to discipline myself and we’ll wait until halftime. And I’m going to go out and blow my brains out with cigarettes.’ That’s your option. But not when there are athletes and there are little kids who want to come to the game. . . . But they don’t care about young people and the athletes who are breathing it in.”

Now he’ll maybe get an opportunity to work with NBA most precious participant Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother, Thanasis, who each may play for Greece at subsequent 12 months’s Tokyo Olympics.

Both performed at this 12 months’s FIBA World Cup in China, the place Greece failed to complete as one of many prime two European groups and thus should qualify for the Olympics by way of a event in June, one wherein the Antetokounmpo brothers possible is not going to play due to their NBA commitments.

“Obviously it’s a great honor for me to accept this position, and I’m looking forward to it,” Pitino instructed reporters Friday. “I’ll spend most of the winter, once the brackets are announced, studying the film and we’ll go to work.”

Greece, a two-time European champion, has not certified for the Olympic basketball event since 2008 and has completed fifth in its final three appearances. Thanasis Skourtopoulos, the workforce’s coach for its 11th-place end in China, was criticized throughout the World Cup for resting Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout the fourth quarter of a 69-53 loss to the United States within the event’s second spherical.

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Pitino beforehand coached the Puerto Rican nationwide workforce, main it to a fifth-place end on the 2015 FIBA Americas championship earlier than stepping down.

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