Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pitino no longer 'Slick Rick'

Twenty years ago, I was a 24-year-old reporter for The Louisville Courier-Journal. My assignment was to cover Rick Pitino's first basketball team at the University of Kentucky.

(Pitino, of course, is in the news right now for his role in a soap-opera sex-and-extortion scandal -- the latest story is here).

That was an awesome assignment for a 24-year-old, and I knew it. I lived in Lexington, Ky., and was around Pitino almost every day for that first season, as he took a team absolutely decimated by NCAA penalties and transfers and cobbled together something respectable.

You could see Pitino's genius on and off the court -- Lord, his mind was quick and so was his tongue. Plus, he was a charismatic and handsome devil -- by then, the nickname "Slick Rick" had already stuck to him.

Twenty years later, it's time to peel that nickname away. I thought Pitino would be smarter than this, but his still-undetermined role in this sex scandal will now also be part of his legacy.

I just thought Pitino would be smarter than to get involved in something like this. Of course it's natural he would be appealing to other women -- he's always looked 10 years younger than his actual age, and he's a millionaire many times over, and he is thoughtful and quick-witted (and a reporter's dream because he's so quotable).

But Pitino admits consensual sex with the woman, and he gave her $3,000 later (his lawyer says for insurance, she says for an abortion).

It's a sordid affair, undoubtedly. And however it comes out, I'm disappointed with Pitino -- who was so fun to get to know 20 years ago, so admirable, and yet, like all of us, ultimately so flawed.


JAT said...

Like all of us, Scott?

How many affairs have you had where you impregnate a woman and pay for her abortion?

There's human and there's reckless. Not the same thing.

Anonymous said...

he's a great coach.

but worse than the average person.

he's certainly not like all of us, i don't think i'm that flawed...maybe you are scott. what kind of a life are living?

Anonymous said...

Pitino is the VICTIM here. Since when does anyone deserve extortion?

Anonymous said...

The gal was a model. Now that her looks are going, she is looking for some easy money. Nice going, Rick. I don't blame you. Pay the woman a couple mil, you can afford it; of course, conjugal visits should be part of the deal.