Thursday, August 27, 2009

De-Syphering Rick Pitino

I don't know, I appear to be in the minority on this one, but I tend not to blame Rick Pitino too much for this press conference he held yesterday. Sure, it's a bit odd, something you don't see very often. But in my mind, there is nothing worse than being accused of things -- particularly vile things -- that you didn't do. It seems to me that Pitino is pretty convinced he didn't do the things that Karen Sypher has accused him of. And it seems to me that Sypher is one of the lower forms of humanity you can find.

Pitino could sell a ketchup popsicle to a person wearing white gloves. He could sell snow to an Eskimo. The man is slick. But he's sold me on this one. He's by far the more believable party in this one, as far as I'm concerned.

Maybe I'm a bit biased. Pitino was once one of my favorite figures in sports, when he guided Providence's miraculous run from the dust heap to a Final Four in his two years at PC, while I was a high schooler in Rhode Island. No, I don't like the way he left PC high and dry (not to mention the Knicks, Kentucky and the Celtics). No, I don't at all like the remarkably poor judgment he showed with Syphers that night at the Italian restaurant (cue the Billy Joel song ... at least he didn't have to endure this punishment). Yes, I did have a brush with fame with him 20 years ago. Yes, I still love hearing the man talk about basketball, whether at a postgame press conference, at the Big East media day or wherever.

But I can't blame the guy for unleashing some anger at yesterday's press conference. If accused of something I know in my mind I didn't do, I'd do the same thing. I'm always amazed at the remarkable restraint shown by some people (the Duke lacrosse players, for example) when it comes to light they were wrongly accused of awful crimes. Can't say I'd be the same way.

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