College Basketball: Rick Pitino Deserves to Be a First Ballot Hall-of-Famer

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 13:  Rick Pitino the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the Big East Conference game against the Syracuse Orange at KFC YUM! Center on February 13, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Rick Pitino was named a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012 inductees.

Pitino joins five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller, former NBA coach Bill Fitch and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain as first-time finalists.

The following people are on the ballot for at least their second time: Don Nelson, Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Dick Motta, Hank Nichols, Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes and the All-American Red Heads (the first women's professional basketball team and a female version of the Harlem Globetrotters).

Rick Pitino deserves to be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.

His coaching resume is super impressive.

While Pitino is mostly known for his accomplishments in the collegiate game, he served as an NBA head coach with both the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.

He led the Knicks to the playoffs two times.

Pitino is the only NCAA men’s basketball coach to take three different schools to the Final Four (Providence - 1987; Kentucky - 1993, 1996, 1997 and Louisville - 2005).

He led Kentucky to their program's sixth National Championship in 1996. The Wildcats returned the following season, under Pitino's leadership, to the championship game. 

As of this season, he has won over 600 games in his collegiate career, posting over 200 victories at both Kentucky and Louisville.

While each of every year's finalists have a long list of accomplishments, Rick Pitino has had success in five different decades.

He should be inducted to the Hall of Fame his first time on the ballot.

He reached the Final Four five different times (1987, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2005), led his teams to 20 postseason appearances and won nine conference tournament championships. He earned Coach of the Year honors from different sources three different years. Pitino also held two stints as an NBA head coach with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, leading the Knicks to two playoff appearances.