Rick Pitino, the first coach in NCAA history to take three different teams to the NCAA Final Four, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. A 2006 inductee to the New York City Hall of Fame, Pitino has the second-highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games among active coaches, winning 75 percent of his games in the post-season event with a 50-17 record in 19 tournament appearances.
Pitino is one of only two coaches (along with North Carolina's Roy Williams) in NCAA history to have led two different schools to at least three Final Fours each. He is one of only four coaches (also Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith) ever to guide a school to the Final Four in four separate decades. Pitino is one of a select group of eight coaches who have taken teams from four different schools to the NCAA Tournament. He is one of five coaches all-time who have reached the Final Four on at least seven occasions. Pitino is known for getting his players to believe in themselves, instilling the desire to succeed and driving his players to overachieve. His former players speak of their coach's caring nature beyond their basketball skills. As evident, by twenty-nine of his former assistants or players have become collegiate head coaches.
For three and a half years, Pitino served as president and head coach of the NBA's Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, he took over a team that had posted a franchise worst 15-67 record before his arrival. He quickly made an impact helping provide culture to a talented, but young team; improving the Celtics' victory total by 21 games in his first season.
He guided Kentucky to three NCAA Final Four appearances in his last five years at Kentucky, winning the 1996 NCAA Championship and reaching the national title game in 1997. In eight seasons with the Wildcats, he amassed a 219-50 record (.814) while winning two league crowns and an impressive 17-1 record in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Pitino was only 25 years old when he accepted his first head coaching job at Boston University in 1978. He produced a 91-51 record in five years there, departing as the most successful coach in BU history. In his final season there, he guided the Terriers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years. He was twice named New England Coach of the Year (1979, 1983).
Pitino left Boston U. to become an assistant coach for the New York Knicks from 1983-85, where he worked with hall of fame coach Hubie Brown. It was a team he would return to lead as its head coach in two seasons.
He was head coach at Providence College for two seasons (1985-87), producing a 42-23 record there. He guided the Friars to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1986 and an improbable trip to the NCAA Final Four in 1987, winning the regional title in Freedom Hall.