Being a member of the Louisville Cardinals basketball team offers some interesting fringe benefits. In addition to playing for a top-tier program and possibly winning a title, you can also get a beautiful horse named after you thanks to coach Rick Pitino.
It's nearly time to go mad throughout March, which is something Pitino is quite adept at handling, having won titles in 1996 and 2013. Or as Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde writes, Pitino "hasn't lost a postseason game since 2012."
You could say that the last couple of years have provided ample opportunities for the 61-year-old to smile. He has another title, a place in the Hall of Fame, a lavish car to drive around town, buddies to fish with in the Bahamas and horses.
It's that last fact that garners a select group of his players a pretty cool honor: getting swift colts named after them.
FoxSports.com's Sam Gardner reported last May on Pitino's stable of Louisville equine namesakes—a report that mentions Pitino's most famous horse, Goldencents, which came up short in last year's Kentucky Derby. (Pitino owns a reported five percent of the Derby horse.)
As for the other horses, naming them has come quite easily to Pitino. The Louisville Courier-Journal's C.L. Brown reported in 2012 on the inspiration behind two of the names.
While the majority of the story resides behind a pay wall, Yahoo! Sports' Ryan Greene has some of the more pertinent quotes.
Regarding the horse named after Gorgui Dieng, Pitino said, "The Bellamy Road colt was a spectacular, big, big colt. He was lanky, had great potential and goes the distance. I said I got the perfect name for him. I said 'Gorgui.'"
As for his second colt at the time, Pitino mentioned that it was "very, very quick — has a great first step, so to speak." The name came naturally: Siva, named after former Louisville guard Peyton Siva.
Pitino said at the time, "They're two of my favorite ballplayers and young men. I told both guys. They're super excited."
Pitino didn't stop there. He gave a two-year-old horse the spectacular name Russdiculous, a moniker meant as a hat tip to Russ Smith, via Cardinal Authority (subscription required).
Sadly, Russdiculous was sold early in 2013, giving Pitino's stable one less Cardinal to boast. Perhaps that makes a bit more room on the figurative floor for another of Pitino's horses, Three-Point Luke, whose name serves as a nod to Luke Hancock.
Gardner reminds us that the sharpshooter "earned Final Four MVP honors after scoring a team-high 22 points in Louisville's win over Michigan in the national championship game."
As for the current iteration of the Cardinals, they are fighting to once again make an impact during the most important month of the season.
While the nation loses its collective mind over thrilling games and buzzer-beaters, Pitino will again have his guys eyeing the finish line.
Who knows? A Louisville player who steps up to knock down a big shot, offers some amazing theatrics or earns a win in an audacious way may get more than applause from the Cardinals faithful.
He may also earn one of the rarer accolades in sport: a horse running under his name.
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