Thu Oct 06 11:01am EDT
Asked by CBSSports.com about a thinly veiled jab Kentucky coach John Calipari took at the Louisville program this past weekend, Pitino fired back with a pull-no-punches shot of his own.
"Four things I've learned in my 59 years about people," Pitino said Wednesday. "I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid."
"If the shoe fits anyone, wear it," Pitino added.
The comments from Pitino come just a few days after Calipari conveniently overlooked Louisville when listing the state of Kentucky's noteworthy programs. Here's what Calipari said when asked by KSTV if fans from any other school would spend three nights sleeping in tents for courtside tickets to Midnight Madness.
"It's a unique thing. There's no other state − none − as connected to their basketball program as this one," Calipari said. "Because those other states have other programs. Michigan has Michigan State. California, UCLA has all those ... North Carolina has Duke. It's Kentucky, throughout this whole state, and that's what makes this unique."
A public war of words between Pitino and Calipari can only make a rivalry that is already perhaps the sport's best into even better theater for college basketball fans. It's the logical next step considering the way the two have butted heads on the recruiting trail and consistently tried to one-up each other.
Was it coincidence Calipari decided to coach the Dominican National Team days after Pitino revealed interest in coaching Puerto Rico? Or that Calipari staged an exhibition game between his Dominican team and a group of ex-Wildcats at Louisville's arena? Or that Pitino called the SEC "a second-rate league" just days after Calipari griped about the Big East receiving too many NCAA tournament bids?
The annual meeting between Kentucky and Louisville will be Dec. 31, meaning it will be an especially happy new year for one of the state's two prominent coaches. In the immortal words of a certain infamous NFL receiver, "Get your popcorn ready."