Rick Pitino is the new head coach for the Greece national men’s basketball team. The former Louisville coach announced the news early Friday and the Greek basketball federation confirmed it, adding he would be officially announced Monday.
Really honored to be coaching the Greek National team. Have a lot of work and preparation ahead but I’m looking forward to the challenge.— Rick Pitino (@RealPitino) November 8, 2019
The former Louisville coach may now be coaching NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo. The Milwaukee Bucks teammates played for Greece in the World Cup this year where they missed the quarterfinals and finished 11th. Pitino told ESPN he planned to meet with the stars in March.
Greece still needs to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Pitino said he would coach the team in June for the Olympic qualifying tournament. Greece is one of 24 teams playing for four bids.
"Obviously it's a great honor for me to accept this position, and I'm looking forward to it," Pitino said, via ESPN. "I'll spend most of the winter, once the brackets are announced, studying the film and we'll go to work."
Pitino, 67, became a big name in Greece when he took over as coach for Panathinaikos in the Greek League, where Thanasis played last winter. It came more than a year after he was essentially fired from Louisville during an FBI investigation into another recruiting scandal. He led the squad to its third consecutive Greek League title (37th overall) and a sixth-place finish in the EuroLeague playoffs.
In June, the coach turned down a lucrative offer to stay with the team and instead reportedly wanted to pursue a job in the NBA. Then within the past week he said he wanted to coach the Greek national team and would do it for free.
“I don’t want any money, it will be an honor for me to coach the national team. To me, that’s worth a million dollars, the honor of coaching Greece. I am ready for the challenge.”
Pitino may not be back in the NBA, but he could be in the 2020 Olympics with the NBA MVP to take on the United States and its crush of star power.
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