This March Madness period has thus far been pretty successful for Rick Pitino.
As he readies his Louisville Cardinals for the Final Four, the head coach's name can be seen headlining the reported list of inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Among the notables joining him is Gary Payton, former star point guard for the Seattle SuperSonics.
Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York broke news of Pitino’s induction on Friday, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.
Ian O'Connor @Ian_OConnor
#Louisville coach Rick Pitino has won induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame, source tells http://t.co/Afm5R3kRyC4/5/2013, 1:27:28 PM
Fox Sports Florida’s Chris Tomasson was told by a source of Payton’s impending enshrinement.
CBS Sports college basketball insider Jeff Goodman reported that Jerry Tarkanian, longtime coach of UNLV, will also make it into Springfield, Mass., this year.
Pitino is currently eyeing a national semifinal matchup with Wichita State on Saturday. News of his induction should only add to the undoubtedly special atmosphere surrounding that contest in Atlanta.
As for Payton, he will have legendary Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton and prolific scorer George Gervin as his presenters. Tomasson indicated that Payton professed this preference as early as last November and will stick by it.
Payton starred for Seattle, but he won his lone NBA title with the Miami Heat in 2006. He averaged 16.3 points and 6.7 assists per game for his career and garnered the nickname "The Glove" for his stellar defense.
Tarkanian's Runnin' Rebels made four Final Four appearances in 1977, 1987, 1990 and 1991. The third time was the charm, as UNLV won the 1990 national championship. He also coached at Long Beach State and Fresno State.
This is a strong class thus far, with two prolific coaches and one of the best all-around point guards in the history of the NBA set to be endowed with the ultimate honor in basketball. More finalists may follow, but with these three, the Naismith Memorial pays tribute to some of the sport’s living legends.