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Rick Pitino on Hall induction: 'Great players got me here'

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino celebrates after defeating

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino celebrates after defeating during the NCAA tournament. (March 31, 2013) Credit: AP

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - In the 1983-84 season, Bernard King was king of the most important court in New York, Madison Square Garden. He was voted to his second All-Star Game in three seasons and finished the season with a then-career-high 26.3 points per game.

Along the sideline, Knicks coach Hubie Brown frequently turned to his young assistant coach and asked him what scheme the offense should run.

A young Rick Pitino, fresh off a head-coaching stint at Boston University, frequently gave Brown the same answer: "Give it to B."

That young assistant went on to coach the Knicks to playoff berths in 1988 and 1989, but Pitino, now 60 -- who will be one of 12 people entering the Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday -- didn't make a name for himself in the professional ranks. Instead, he dominated the college game.

With Louisville's 2013 NCAA championship still fresh in the rearview mirror, the Long Island product (St. Dominic) has the honor of being the only coach in college basketball history to guide two schools to a national title (Kentucky, 1996). Pitino has been to the Final Four seven times with three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, Louisville), a distinction he also holds alone. With more than 600 victories, he enters the Hall of Fame with an unrivaled resume and plenty of time to add to it.

"I don't like to think of the past too much," he said. "You cherish it, but you don't live in it too much. These three days is an opportunity to live in the past, and I am living it because [King] is in the Hall of Fame because he was a great player. I'm in the Hall of Fame because great players got me here.

"These are some of my all-time favorites," Pitino said of the Hall's 2013 class.

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