Monday, August 16, 2010
Updated: August 23, 12:46 PM ET
Pitino, Laettner Hall worthy?
By Dick Vitale
I am often asked about individuals who belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame. My friends, it is an incredible honor to be with the crème de la crème in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Two people that have meant a lot to college basketball are Rick Pitino and Christian Laettner. To me, both belong among those enshrined in Springfield.
Let's start with Pitino. His list of accomplishments is impressive. He has won a national championship (1996) and may have won a second if Derek Anderson was not injured when the 'Cats lost in 1997 to Arizona. Only 12 active coaches have cut down the nets as a national champion. He is the only coach in college hoop history to take three different schools to the Final Four (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville). His college record is 572-210 in 23 previous seasons.
Among active coaches, his 73.1 winning percentage is sixth; Roy Williams and Coach K are ahead and both are in the Hall. Tom Izzo is also ahead and I feel he will make it to Springfield one day.
Pitino has made it to 15 NCAA tournaments and five Final Fours. His stats are worthy of the Hall in my opinion.
I know some are critical with the recent events of the Karen Sypher trial. Pitino was the victim of extortion, and he admitted what he did was wrong. I believe he will be a stronger person and coach in the future.
Laettner made it to four consecutive Final Fours, winning a pair of national championships. How many players would love to get to one Final Four, baby?! He shot over 50 percent from the field in all four seasons; he hit over 55 percent on trifectas during his senior season.
What made Laettner special was his ability to hit the clutch shot at winning time. Think back to the winner against Kentucky in one of the greatest college games ever. Remember another winning shot against Connecticut! He was a money player who wanted the ball in his hands.
I know some people disagree with me on Laettner. I am talking about his college career and what he accomplished at Duke!
Pitino and Laettner have enjoyed very special careers. I hope they eventually get recognized for those accomplishments.
• Vitale: Rick Pitino deserves a second chance