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Rick Pitino wants back in the league after winning a championship in Greece

Rick Pitino

Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino has turned down an offer to return as president and coach of Greek club Panathinaikos, the franchise he led to a local championship this season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Pitino is hoping to return to the full-time pursuit of an NBA job, whether that is coaching, player personnel or an advisory role with a franchise.

He led Panathinaikos to a Greek Cup title, completing a 15-0 season. The team was 7-0 when Pitino arrived. Pitino led the team into postseason play in the EuroLeague playoffs too.

Pitino’s accomplishments in the college game are among the most lauded, winning NCAA titles with the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals, reaching seven Final Fours and winning conference titles in the Big East, SEC and ACC.

Yet he’s had a scandal-filled reputation, one that ultimately led to his firing from Louisville in 2018, soon looking to get back into coaching after a short hiatus.

Pitino’s dismissal at Louisville came in the aftermath of an FBI investigation strongly suggested the coach was unaware of payments made to a former Louisville recruit’s family. Yet a deep dive revealed that strippers and prostitutes were being used in recruiting visits to lure players into playing for the Cardinals.

The 66-year-old coach had a prior stint in the NBA, resigning early in his fourth season with the Boston Celtics in 2001 after finishing his tenure with a 102-146 record. He was reportedly overwhelmed with the biggest coach/executive dual role with the organization, which paid him $70 million over 10 years, calling it quits with nearly $30 million left on his deal.

“I’m not looking for any of that [control] at this stage of my life,” Pitino told ESPN in December. “I want to develop teams and develop players and build a winner. I value analytics. I want to fit into an organization. At this stage, that’s all I’m interested in.”

He also coached the New York Knicks the late 1980s, reaching the playoffs twice (1988, 1989) before departing to coach at Kentucky.