Congrats on the Hall of Fame. What life experiences do you credit for your successful career?
PITINO: I was fortunate (and also unfortunate) to become a head coach at a very young age, age 24. My route as a coach was by trial and error. When you're a head coach that young, you don't have the benefit of learning and being mentored by somebody. But after that, I was mentored by Hubie Brown, who I give a lot of credit to in terms of organizing a basketball plan of how to be successful. He's very much brilliant at so many different areas that I gained an awful lot of knowledge in a short period of time.
You're the author of a great new book, 'The One-Day Contract'. What inspired you to do this particular book?
PITINO: A couple of years ago, I was considering leaving the industry and becoming a broadcaster... Everything in this book is what I used to motivate myself. For two years, when I was writing this book, I wrote most of it longhand. Each chapter served as a way of motivating myself as well as [a way] to speak to my team.
What is the "one-day contract?"
PITINO: It all started with a conversation with my brother-in-law who I lost in 9/11, who was my best friend, Billy Minardi. I was sitting as the Knicks coach in New York at The Tavern and we were discussing free agency and how the Atlanta Hawks (I think it was) at the time gave a contract to a young man who was averaging two points and four rebounds a game. They paid him $21 million for seven years. Very high back then.
(The following dialogue took place):
Minardi: How could you offer a guy averaging two points a game... $21 million?
Pitino: I didn't offer it to him first of all. They did. They're basing it on the fact that he's seven-feet-tall and has potential.
Minardi: Well, that's what wrong with professional sports. You don't give contracts based on results. On Wall Street, we're a results driven industry.
Pitino: Well, you guys work under contract as well.
Minardi: (He laughs) We're on a one-day contract. We're only as good as our last trade.
That's where I got the title for the book. 'One-Day Contract' is based on how good everybody would be from a preparation standpoint... if you had one day to get your contract renewed. That's sort of the way I've coached the last two years.
We have 19 million business listings on our site. Are your coaching principles easily translatable to business advice?
PITINO: It's applicable to any business because it's based on getting the most out of your abilities for one day. Everybody can't be on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But when you're between the lines (to me, that's the basketball court) before you go to bed at night, you obviously have to be totally prepared for the next day.
The book starts the first chapter with humility and how I think that is the key word. It serves as the common denominator for everything else in the book. Without humility, trying to achieve greatness is just not worth it. That's what I've learned throughout the years. To be truly successful, you really have to have a humble spirit about you. That means, sharing with everyone you work with, everything you're trying to achieve...
We talk about how if you really play to the name on the front, in the end, the name on the back will prosper. And that's about winning. Isn't it hard to be humble when you're trying to dunk on someone like Joel Embiid (Kansas' star center)?
PITINO: In the book, I talk about Coach K (Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski). Obviously, he's at the zenith of his career. He's able to handle losing in a very humble way and... winning in a very humble way. He hasn't stopped being at the top of his game. Today, he's a modern day John Wooden because of his humble spirit. He exudes class.
You've had some amazing success in the Final Four, unprecedented in fact, as a coach. What is your to-do list comprised of once the bracket gets announced?
PITINO: In order to survive... for everything you do, you plan ahead based on winning. All the way to the end. But in terms of your focus, it's always on the first game. Then the next game. Everything you need to do from a scouting standpoint is based on winning it all. All your efforts and everything you do is based on that one game... The one thing you DON'T do is try and pick a winner in the next game while you're preparing. That's a big mistake.
That sounds like good advice for the small business owner. Metaphorical.
PITINO: Well, the small business owner is no different than the small basketball team. We're all in business in sports. Obviously, we've been the #1 revenue producer in college basketball 11 straight years. We dwarf our nearest competitor by almost $20 million. So sports is a business and college is a business...
Whether you're a small business owner or a large business corporation, you're in this thing to win. That's what I think 'The One-Day Contract' does. It just gets the most out of every person on your team in that one day. Throughout the entire championship season, I spoke about 'The One-Day Contract' to my team. When we left the locker room, I said "Guys, we're on a one-day contract, this has got to be our best practice."
What does Rick Pitino typically do on his day off?
PITINO: During the season, there are no days off. In the off-season, I spend a couple of weeks a season watching my thoroughbreds run. That's my hobby... the thoroughbred industry. I go to Del Mar out on the West Coast, watch some of my horses run. And I go to Saratoga to watch some my horses. They won't necessarily run, but they'll train.
You've recruited a lot of future NBA players as a college coach. What does a coach of your stature do to recruit kids these days?
PITINO: We don't necessarily go into the one-and-done basketball player. We look for the young man that has pro potential, [and] we try to obviously develop that pro potential. But we don't go after the ready-made player who's only going to be with you for eight months. Not that we're adverse to taking one like that, but we go after the young man who's looking for an education after that one year.
If you could go back to your younger self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?
PITINO: It would probably be to be patient with everything you do. Be patient with yourself. Moving up the ladder. Be more patient in terms of handling athletes. I think patience and humility is something that's probably missing in most young people. As characteristics that stand out. I wish I was more patient and humble at a young age.
How do you think technology has affected your connection with players these days?
PITINO: Modern technology is just awesome. What you can do with your phone today is incredible. And I certainly utilize that in recruiting and selling and everything I do. The only problem with technology is that it's taking away the ability to communicate and articulate from young people.
My guys today, when they want to ask out a young lady, they do it by Facebook. If they want to communicate with someone, they text. And then you get 'em one-on-one, they have a difficult time looking you in the eye. They have a difficult time articulating their message, because they're so used to electronic media as a form of communication.
How does winning a national championship change the culture at a school such as Louisville?
PITINO: Well, Louisville has always been one of the top seven or eight traditions in college basketball. We've been in business now for 100 years, but we've only won three championships. I say "only", but there are not many schools who have won more. It's very difficult to win a championship. I think what it does is it helps your admissions. It gives you tremendous exposure. And we've been very lucky. In one year, we went to the women's finals in basketball, won the [men's] national championship in basketball. Won the Sugar Bowl in football. And also went to the [College] World Series in baseball. We've had quite a year.
As a Lakers fan, I need to ask you: Is this year's draft class all that it's hyped up to be?
PITINO: It is. But it's also about making sure you draft Michael Jordan instead of Sam Bowie. That's no knock on Sam Bowie who had injury problems. You have to make sure you draft the right person... a healthy person as well as a very talented person. And sometimes, you just don't know that answer.
Early bracket help. Who's going to be in the Final Four this year?
PITINO: Well, you don't know until the brackets come out. Because you don't know which teams will be in which bracket. I do know the teams that I think have a chance at winning a national championship. I think Syracuse is definitely in that mix. I think Kansas is definitely in that mix. I put Kentucky in that mix, although they're young, they have size, shot blocking ability and great talent needless to say. Wichita State is in the mix because they're a returning team from the Final Four. Duke is a team that I have great respect for... Villanova is a very good team, but it depends on who they have to face.