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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who is William Oliver Stone?

Who is William Oliver Stone? The entertainment world knows him as Oliver Stone, he is an American film director and screenwriter. Stone came to prominence in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, in which he had himself participated as an American infantry soldier. His work has earned him three Academy Awards, and continues to focus frequently on contemporary political and cultural issues, often controversially. His first Academy Award was for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978). He subsequently won Academy Awards for Directing Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), both of which were centered on the Vietnam War.
A notable feature of Stone's directing style is the use of many different cameras and film formats, from VHS to 8 mm film to 70 mm film. He sometimes uses several formats in a single scene, as in Natural Born Killers (1994) and JFK (1991).


Early life and career

Stone was born September 15, 1946  in New York City, the son of Jacqueline (née Goddet) and Louis Stone, a stockbroker. He grew up affluently and lived in townhouses in Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut. His father was Jewish and his mother a Roman Catholic of French birth, and Stone was raised an Episcopalian as a compromise (but has since converted to Buddhism). Stone attended Trinity School before his parents sent him away to attend The Hill School, an exclusive college-preparatory school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. His mother was often absent and his father made a big impact on his life; father-son relationships were to feature heavily in Stone's films. His parents divorced when he was 15, due to his father's extramarital affairs with the wives of several family friends. Stone's father was also influential in obtaining jobs for his son, including work on a financial exchange in France, where Stone often spent his summer vacation with his maternal grandparents - a job that proved inspirational to Stone for his movie Wall Street. Stone eventually graduated from The HillSchool in 1964.
Stone was then admitted into Yale University, but left after one year. Stone had become inspired by Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim as well as by Zorba the Greek and George Harrison's music to teach English at the Free Pacific Institute in South Vietnam. Stone taught in Vietnam for six months after which he worked as a wiper on a United States Merchant Marine ship, travelling to Oregon and Mexico, before returning to Yale, where he dropped out a second time (in part due to working on his 1,400 page autobiographical novel A Child's Night Dream). In September 1967 he enlisted in the United States Army, requesting combat duty in Vietnam. He fought with the 25th Infantry Division, then with the First Cavalry, earning before he was discharged after a 15-month tour in 1968 a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster.While at Yale, Stone and friend Lloyd Kaufman worked on an early Troma Entertainment comedy The Battle of Love's Return (1971). Both also acted in the movie, Stone in a cameo role. Stone eventually graduated from film school at New York University (where he was mentored by director Martin Scorsese) in 1971. Stone was the recipient of the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award at the 2007 Austin Film Festival.

 Mainstream success

He has made three films about VietnamPlatoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and Heaven & Earth (1993). He has called these films a trilogy, though they each deal with different aspects of the war. Platoon is a semi-autobiographical film about Stone's experience in combat. Born on the Fourth of July is based on the autobiography of Ron Kovic. Heaven & Earth is derived from the memoir When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, the true story of Le Ly Hayslip, a Vietnamese girl whose life is drastically affected by the war. During this same period, Stone directed Wall Street (1987), for which Michael Douglas received the Academy Award for Best Actor; Talk Radio (1988), and The Doors (1991), starring Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison. Stone has won three Academy Awards. His first Oscar was for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978). He won Academy Awards for Directing Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.
For Year of the Dragon (1985) he received a Razzie nomination in the category 'Worst Screenplay'. Other films whose screenplays he participated in are Conan the Barbarian (1982), Scarface (1983), 8 Million Ways to Die (1986) and Evita (1996). In addition, he has written or taken part in the writing of every film he has directed, except for U Turn (1997). The very first film that he directed professionally was the obscure horror picture Seizure (1974).
I make my films like you're going to die if you miss the next minute. You better not go get popcorn.
–Oliver Stone


Stone directed U Turn (1997), and Any Given Sunday (1999), a film about power struggles within and surrounding an American football team. In 2000, Stone, along with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas appeared in Money Never Sleeps. The film is a direct-to-DVD documentary about making Wall Street, in which Stone directed and Sheen and Douglas starred. Stone also directed Alexander (2004), a biopic about Alexander the Great.
After Alexander, Stone went on to direct World Trade Center, which centered on two Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) cops during the September 11, 2001 attacks. The main undercurrent of the film is hope through times of trial. As of December 19, 2006, the worldwide box office for World Trade Center was $161,735,806. He is slated to direct Pinkville, a Vietnam war drama about the infamous killings set to star Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum. The film's plot was to focus on the investigation into the 1968 My Lai Massacre of Vietnamese civilians. It would have been Stone's fourth Vietnam film, after Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth. The film was to have been made for the newly reformed United Artists. However, United Artists halted its December 2007 production start because of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Stone's latest film is the George W. Bush biopic, titled W.. He indicated portraying the controversial President's childhood, relationship with his father, struggles with alcoholism, rediscovery of his Christian faith, his political career and presidency up through the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The film is based on a screenplay by Stone and Stanley Weiser, who had co-written Wall Street (1987). Josh Brolin was cast in the role of Bush, James Cromwell as Bush Sr.  and Elizabeth Banks as Laura Welch Bush. Filming began on May 12, 2008 in Shreveport, Louisiana and wrapped in June. W. was released on October 17, 2008. He recently promoted his new film South of the Border at the Venice Film Festival; a documentary about Hugo Chavez.


Stone's films often have been criticized for promoting conspiracy theories and historical inaccuracies. JFK, for instance, centers on a heroic character who comes to believe that many high-level government officials had a hand in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1991, he showed the film to Congress on Capitol Hill, which helped lead to passage of the Assassination Materials Disclosure Act of 1992. The Assassination Records Review Board (created by Congress to end the secrecy surrounding Kennedy's assassination) discussed the film, including Stone's observation at the end of the film, about the dangers inherent in government secrecy. Stone published an annotated version of the screenplay, in which he cites references for his claims, shortly after the film's release.
Stone's screenplay Midnight Express was criticized for portraying the Turkish people in an overly negative light. The original author, Billy Hayes, around whom the film is set, has spoken out against the film, protesting that he had many Turkish friends while in jail.
Stone's film The Doors received criticism from Ray Manzarek (keyboardist–bass player) during a question and answer session at Indiana University East (in Richmond, Indiana), in 1997. During the discussion, Manzarek stated that he sat down with Stone about The Doors and Jim Morrison for over 12 hours. Patricia Kennealy Morrison - a well known rock critic and author - was a consultant on the movie, in which she also has a cameo appearance, but she writes in her memoir Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison (Dutton, 1992) that Stone ignored everything she told him and proceeded with his own version of events. From the moment the movie was released, she blasted it as untruthful and inaccurate. Surviving members of the band, John Densmore and Robby Krieger, also cooperated with the filming of Doors, but distanced themselves from the work before the film's release.
Natural Born Killers  is filmed and edited in a frenzied style where animation, grainy black-and-white 8 mm film, color 35 mm film, and VHS are intercut and juxtaposed in a psychedelic montage of images showing not only the story's action, but also conveying the thoughts and feelings of the characters. The film was criticized by some for its apparent glorification of violence. Quentin Tarantino was credited with "Story By" on the final film. In 1997, a book about the making of the film, Killer Instinct, was written by Jane Hamsher and published by Broadway Books.
Also in 1997, Stone was one of 34 celebrities to sign an open letter to then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, published as a newspaper advertisement in the International Herald Tribune, which protested against the treatment of Scientologists in Germany and compared it to the Nazis' oppression of Jews in the 1930s. Other signatories included Dustin Hoffman and Goldie Hawn.
In 2003, Stone travelled to Cuba where he interviewed Fidel Castro for three days. The result was the documentary Comandante where Stone and Castro talk about politics, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel's personal beliefs, the Cuban Revolution, important events from the past 50 years and Castro's views on the future of the revolution. The film was scheduled to air in May 2003 on HBO but was put on hold after an incident where hijackers threatened to kill passengers on a Cuban ferry if they were not taken to the United States. It has not been released in the United States and is only available on imported DVDs from Britain. Stone returned to Cuba and shot Looking for Fidel, a documentary dealing with conditions on the island and the relationship between Cuba and the United States. That film was aired on HBO in early 2004.
In 2010, Stone defended his decision not to interview Chavez's opponents during the filming of his documentary South of the Border. Stone indicated that people hear enough of those complaints already and that the movie is not intended to be a detailed examination of Chavez's record. He praised Chavez as a leader of a movement for "social transformation" in Latin American and expressed his deep admiration for him. Stone also criticized the administration of United States President Barack Obama for not doing anything to improve U.S. relations with Chavez or his Latin American allies. The documentary was criticized by many Venezuelan activists. Former Chacao mayor Leopoldo Lopez challenged Stone's assertion that "most peoples' lives in this country have improved under Chavez," writing that "if you are among the millions living in barrios, you no longer trust that you will be protected, that services will be delivered, that your lights will stay on or that you will have access to clean water."

 Drug use

Stone loosely based Scarface on his own addiction to cocaine which he had to kick while writing the screenplay. On the DVD of Natural Born Killers: The Director's Cut, one of the producers, Jane Hamsher, recounts stories of taking psilocybin mushrooms with Stone and some of the cast and crew and almost getting pulled over by a police officer—a situation which Stone later wrote into the film. In 1999, Stone was arrested and pleaded guilty to "alcohol and drug charges." He was ordered into a rehabilitation program. He was arrested again on the night of May 27, 2005 in Los Angeles for possession of an undisclosed illegal drug.

Attempted meeting with FARC

In a January 2008 interview with The Observer, Stone expressed disgust for what he claims to be the ongoing U.S.-supported paramilitary violence in Colombia's "war on drugs." He accompanied Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president and third party negotiator with the Colombian guerilla group known as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, in the release of three hostages held for over six years, another episode in the humanitarian exchange affair.
The visit was part of his research for an upcoming film he will be directing which addresses the crisis. The FARC, designated a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, was described in a 2005 United Nations report as responsible for "grave" human rights violations, including "murders of protected persons, torture and hostage-taking¨ against ¨women, returnees, boys and girls, and ethnic groups." During The Observer interview, Stone did not condemn the FARC outright; "I do think that by the standards of Western civilization they go too far; they kidnap innocent people. On the other hand, they're fighting a desperate battle against highly financed, American-supported forces who have been terrorizing the countryside for years and kill most of the people. FARC is fighting back as best it can and grabbing hostages is the fashion in which they can finance themselves and try to achieve their goals, which are difficult. They're a peasant army; I see them as a Zapata-like army. I think they are heroic to fight for what they believe in and die for it, as was Castro in the hills of Cuba."
Stone made the comments shortly after returning from a trip to Colombia, where he was to have filmed footage of the expected release of three FARC hostages, including a young child named Emanuel. Despite the breakup of the international commission appointed to oversee the release, FARC ultimately released two of the hostages despite their refusal to identify the hostages' exact location. It was subsequently revealed that the FARC could not have released the child because they no longer held him. Instead the child had been placed in foster care and subsequently adopted by the Colombian welfare system (the ICBF) because of signs of child abuse. The purported hostage release had been a FARC ruse all along. Nevertheless, Stone blamed the Colombian government and the United States for the fiasco.

 Holocaust Remarks (2010)

In an interview with The Times newspaper that was published on July 25, 2010, Stone "downplayed" the Holocaust, and referenced the Jewish influence in the United States. The article, by reporter Camilla Long is not available online without a paid subscription to the newspaper, although British bloggers and other newspapers have printed excerpts.
During the interview, when Stone was asked why so much of an emphasis has been placed on the Holocaust, he replied:
The Jewish domination of the media. There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has fucked up United States foreign policy for years.”
Stone made the following statements in January of 2010:
“Hitler is a monster. There is no question... He was a crazy psychopath. Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein. He is a product of his era......We can't judge people as only 'bad' or 'good.' [Hitler] is the product of a series of actions....It's cause and effect. People in America don't know the connection between WWI and WWII"


Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Israel's Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister, said Stones' comments were "racist, antisemitic and made him sick." He also commented, "Beyond the ignorance he proves with his comments, his demonization of the Jewish people could be a sequel to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. When a man of Stone’s stature says such things, it could lead to a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, and it may even cause real harm to Jewish communities and individuals."
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, in a brief statement said that "We are deeply offended. These are words of hate and a disgraceful evocation of anti-Semitism. Shame on Oliver Stone."
In response to Stones' stance on Hitler, Marvin Hier, directer of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said: "To talk about ‘placing Adolf Hitler in context’ is like placing cancer in context, instead of recognizing cancer for what it really is – a horrible disease, just as we must recognize Hitler as the ultimate expression of evil."
David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, said, "By invoking this grotesque, toxic stereotype, Oliver Stone has outed himself as an anti-Semite... For all of Stone’s progressive pretensions, his remark is no different from one of the drunken, Jew-hating rants of his fellow Hollywood celebrity, Mel Gibson.
Abraham H. Foxman, Anti-Defamation League National Director, criticized Stone's comments and said that Stone's "words conjure up some of the most stereotypical and conspiratorial notions of undue Jewish power and influence."


In response to criticism of his comments, Stone later apologized, stating that "In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret." He also stated that "Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry. The fact that the Holocaust is still a very important, vivid and current matter today is, in fact, a great credit to the very hard work of a broad coalition of people committed to the remembrance of this atrocity – and it was an atrocity."

 Other work

In 1993, Stone produced a mini series for ABC Television called Wild Palms. In a cameo, Stone appears on a television in the show discussing how the theories in his film JFK had been proven correct (the series took place in a hypothetical future, 2007). Wild Palms has developed a moderate cult following in the years since it aired, and has recently been released on DVD. That same year, he also spoofed himself in the comedy hit Dave, espousing a conspiracy theory about the President's replacement by a near-identical double. In 1997, Stone published A Child's Night Dream, a largely autobiographical novel first written in 1966-1967. After several unsuccessful attempts to get the work published, he "threw several sections of the manuscript into the East River one cold night, and, as if surgically removing the memory of the book from my mind, volunteered for Vietnam in 1967." Eventually, he dug out the remaining pages, rewrote the manuscript, and published it.
In 2003, Stone made two documentary films: Persona Non Grata, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Comandante, about Cuban President Fidel Castro. In 2004, he made a second documentary on Castro, titled Looking for Fidel. (See also Controversy, above.) Stone is directing a short film about the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where the games were held. He was recently granted permission by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to make a documentary about him. Stone had been previously refused permission by the Iranian government when the President's media advisor, Mehdi Kalhor, denounced Stone as being part of the "Great Satan" of American culture, despite his opposition to the Bush administration. However, Ahmadinejad approved permission a month later, saying he had "no objections" provided the documentary was based on accurate facts. Stone is due to visit Tehran to negotiate the production of the film with Iranian officials, possibly the president himself.
In 2008, Stone was named the Artistic Director of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Asia in Asia.
In 2009, Stone completed a documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the rise of progressive, leftist governments in Latin America. Stone, who is a supporter of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, hopes the film will get the Western world to rethink the Venezuelan president and socialist policies. Titled South of the Border, Chavez joined Stone for the premiere of the documentary at the Venice Film Festival in September 2009. The documentary features informal interviews by Stone with Chavez and six allied leftist presidents, from Bolivia's Evo Morales to Cuba's Raul Castro. Stone stated that he hopes the film will help people better understand a leader who is wrongly ridiculed "as a strongman, as a buffoon, as a clown." In May 2010, Stone began a Latin American tour to promote the film, with screenings planned in Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. The documentary was also being released in some cities in the United States and Europe in the summer. The movie was attacked in the New York Times by writer Larry Rohter, a review that prompted a scathing reply from Stone. The letter, which was sent to the New York Time and published on political blog, addresses each of the “mistakes, misstatements and missing details” Rohter claims are present in South of the Border, as well as reveals what Stone calls Rohter's "animus and conflict of interest."

Future projects

The future of Pinkville remains currently unknown, though Stone is expected to return to the project, following the completion of W. In 2007, Stone was reported to have turned down an invitation to direct a sequel to Wall Street, but in April 2009, it was confirmed that he would in fact direct the Wall Street sequel. Michael Douglas will reprise his oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko, while original star Charlie Sheen is rumored to make a cameo. Shia LaBeouf has also joined the cast. The sequel, named Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is set for release in 2010.
In early January 2010, it emerged that Stone is preparing a documentary series for American television titled Oliver Stone's Secret History of America, which will provide an unconventional account of some of the darkest parts of twentieth century history. Oliver hopes to put into context some of the most abhorrent figures of the last hundred years such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.

 Personal life

Stone married three times, first to Najwa Sarkis, on May 22, 1971. They divorced in 1977. He then married Elizabeth Stone on June 6, 1981. They had two sons, Sean Christopher (b. December 29, 1984) and Michael Jack (b. October 13, 1991). Sean has appeared in some of Stone's films as a child. Stone and Elizabeth divorced in 1993. He is currently married to Sun-jung Jung from Korea, and the couple have a teenage daughter, Tara.


 As director

Year Film Academy Award Nominations Academy Award Wins Golden Globe Nominations Golden Globe Wins BAFTA Nominations BAFTA Wins
1974 Seizure

1981 The Hand

1986 Salvador 2

Platoon 8 4 4 3 3 2
1987 Wall Street 1 1

1988 Talk Radio

1989 Born on the Fourth of July 8 2 5 4 2
1991 The Doors

JFK 8 2 4 1 2 2
1993 Heaven & Earth

1 1

1994 Natural Born Killers


1995 Nixon 4
1997 U Turn

1999 Any Given Sunday

2004 Alexander

2006 World Trade Center

2008 W.

2009 South of the Border

2010 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Total 31 9 16 9 8 4

 Other work


  • Hamburg, Eric. Nixon: An Oliver Stone Film. Hyperion Books. ISBN 0786881577
  • Riordan, James. Stone: The Biography. (1996)
  • Stone, Oliver. JFK: The Book of the Film. Applause Books. ISBN 1557831270
  • Salewicz, Chris. Oliver Stone: the making of his movies. Orion. ISBN 0 75281 820 1

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who is Rick Pitino?

Who is Rick Pitino? The the college and pro basketball world knows him as an American basketball coach. Since 2001, he has been the head coach at the University of Louisville. He has also served as head coach at Boston University, Providence College and the University of Kentucky, leading that program to the NCAA championship in 1996. He has coached on the professional level for the NBA's New York Knicks and Boston Celtics with mixed results.
Pitino holds the distinction of being the only men's coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to the Final Four. In addition, Pitino has achieved a measure of success as an author and a motivational speaker.


 Early years

Pitino was born September 18, 1952(1952-09-18) an Italian American and native of New York City, grew up in the Village of Bayville and was captain of the St. Dominic High School basketball team in nearby Oyster Bay, Long Island. He enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1970. He was a standout guard for the Minutemen basketball team. His 329 career assists rank tenth all-time at UMass, as of the 2008-2009 season. He led the team in assists as a junior and senior. The 168 assists as a senior is the eighth-best single season total ever there. Pitino was a freshman at the same time future NBA legend Julius Erving spent his junior (and final) year at UMass, although the two never played on the same team because freshmen were ineligible to play varsity basketball at the time. Another teammate of Pitino's was Al Skinner, who also went on to become a successful college coach. Pitino earned his degree from UMass in 1974. He was an inductee into the UMass Hall of Fame.

Collegiate coaching

Pitino is currently head coach at the University of Louisville. Previous college coaching assignments include Boston University, Providence College, and the University of Kentucky. As a collegiate head coach, Pitino has compiled a 521–191 record, for a .732 winning percentage that is ranked 10th among active coaches and 29th all-time among all collegiate basketball coaches entering the 2009 season.
Pitino is considered by many to be one of the first coaches to promote fully taking advantage of the 3-point shot, first adopted by the NCAA in 1987. By exploiting the 3-point shot, his teams at Kentucky in the early 1990s were known as Pitino's Bombinos, as a significant portion of the offensive points came from the 3-point shot. Even now, Pitino's teams are known for the 3-point threat and all of his teams rank towards the top in 3-point attempts per season.
Many of Pitino's players and assistant coaches have gone on to become successful collegiate coaches. In total, 21 former Pitino players and coaches have become Division I head coaches, including Florida's Billy Donovan, Minnesota's Tubby Smith, Arizona State's Herb Sendek, and Cincinnati's Mick Cronin.

 Assistant coaching career

Pitino started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Hawaii in 1974, and became a full-time assistant (and interim head coach) in 1975. He was then the first assistant hired by Jim Boeheim in 1976 as Boeheim began his tenure at Syracuse University.
Pitino served as Hawaii's interim head coach late in the 1975-76 season. Coach Bruce O'Neil was fired after the Rainbow Warriors' started the season 9-12. Pitino led Hawaii for their final six games, going 2-4 in the span.
Pitino's time at Hawaii was marred by a 1977 NCAA report on sanctions against the program. According to the report, Pitino was implicated in 8 of the 64 infractions that led the University to be placed on probation. The violations involving Pitino included providing round-trip air fare for a player between New York and Honolulu, arranging for student-athletes to receive used cars for season tickets, and handing out coupons to players for free food at McDonald's. He was also cited, along with the head coach, Bruce O'Neil, for providing misinformation to the NCAA and University of Hawaii officials. Also in 1977, the NCAA infractions committee recommended that Pitino and O'Neil be disassociated from Hawaii athletics. In 1989, Pitino would dismiss the report, saying "I didn't make any mistakes, I don't care what anybody says."

 Boston University

Pitino's first head coaching job came in 1978 at Boston University. In the two seasons before his arrival, the team had won a mere 17 games. Pitino led the team to its first NCAA appearance in 24 years.


Pitino left Boston University to become an assistant coach with the New York Knicks under Hubie Brown. Pitino returned to college coaching to become head coach at Providence in 1985. Providence had gone a dismal 11–20 in the year before he took over. Two years later, Pitino led the team to the Final Four. That Final Four team featured point guard Billy Donovan, who would go on to be an assistant coach under Pitino at Kentucky and then win back-to-back national championships as head coach at the University of Florida.


After spending two years coaching in the NBA, Pitino returned to the college level again in 1989, becoming the coach at Kentucky. The once legendary Kentucky program was reeling from a major recruiting scandal brought on by former coach Eddie Sutton that left it on NCAA probation. Pitino quickly restored Kentucky's reputation and performance, leading his second school to the Final Four in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, and winning a national title in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Kentucky's first NCAA championship in 18 years. The following year, Pitino's Kentucky team made it back to the national title game, losing to Arizona in overtime in the finals of the 1997 NCAA Tournament. Pitino's fast-paced teams at Kentucky were favorites of the school's fans. It was primarily at Kentucky where he implemented his signature style of full-court pressure defense.


Pitino went back to the NBA in 1997, but returned to college—and his adopted home state—on March 21, 2001 to coach the University of Louisville following the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum. In the 2005 season, Pitino led Louisville to their first Final Four in 19 years, and became the only men's coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools to the Final Four. Immediately following their Final Four run, several players graduated or entered the 2005 NBA Draft. The inexperience caused the Cardinals to limp into the Big East Tournament seeded 12th, and miss the NCAA tournament. They made the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), where they were defeated by eventual champions University of South Carolina. The 2007 Cardinal team was primarily the same team, with added freshmen. Picked to finish towards the bottom of the Big East Conference again, Pitino led them to a second-place finish, 12–4 (tied with the University of Pittsburgh, but Louisville beat them earlier in the season) in the conference standings and a first round bye in the conference tournament. Pitino implemented a 2-2-1 and 2-3 zone defense midway through the season. The 2007 team's season ended when the Cardinals lost to Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 2008 Cardinals finished second in the Big East and ranked 13th in both the AP and Coaches' polls. Louisville was the third seed in the 2008 NCAA tournament's East region. They defeated Boise State, Oklahoma and Tennessee to advance to the Elite Eight, where they were defeated by North Carolina. Louisville was the first seed in the 2009 NCAA tournament's Midwest region. They defeated Morehead State, Siena and Arizona to advance to the Elite Eight, where they were defeated by Michigan State.

 Professional coaching

Pitino became head coach of the New York Knicks in 1987. The year before he arrived, the team had won only 24 games. In just two years, Pitino led the Knicks to their first division title in nearly twenty years.
His NBA coaching experience often demonstrated a deep frustration with the dynamics of the league, especially in Boston, where he amassed a 102–146 record from 1997 to 2001. After being beaten by the Toronto Raptors on March 1, 2000 on a buzzer-beater by Vince Carter, Pitino's frustration reached critical mass as he addressed the press. Referring to the expectations of Boston Celtics fans and media, Pitino challenged each of them to let go of the past and focus on the future:
Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that (locker) room playing their asses off. I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world. We can't; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that's in this town sucks. I've been around when Jim Rice was booed. I've been around when Yastrzemski was booed. And it stinks. It makes the greatest town, greatest city in the world, lousy. The only thing that will turn this around is being upbeat and positive like we are in that locker room... and if you think I'm going to succumb to negativity, you're wrong. You've got the wrong guy leading this team.

Pitino struggled in his roles with the Celtics, and statistics like 1999's 19–31 record made him little better in the eyes of many Boston fans than his inexperienced predecessor, M.L. Carr. Pitino's remarks became a cornerstone of Boston Celtics lore, and has served as a metaphor for other sports franchises and their inability to relive past successes. Pitino himself reprised the speech in a tongue-in-cheek manner at Louisville in November 2005, challenging his freshmen players to play as tough as past seniors and drawing laughter from sportswriters in a post-game press conference. During his time in Boston he had complete power serving not just as Head Coach but as General Manager, CEO, and President of the team.

Author and accomplishments

Pitino is the author of a motivational self-help book (and audio recording) named Success is a Choice. He published an autobiography in 1988 entitled Born to Coach describing his life up until his time with the Knicks. His most recent book "Rebound Rules," was the top seller at the 2008 Kentucky Book Fair.
In 2005, Pitino's Louisville team posted a tie for the most single season wins in school history (33) while he became the only men's coach in NCAA history to lead three separate schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to the Final Four.
Pitino's .744 winning percentage in 43 NCAA Tournament games ranks third among active coaches.

Thoroughbred horse racing

Beyond basketball, Pitino has been involved in the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing as the lead partner in Celtic Pride Stable and the Ol Memorial Stable. Among his notable horses have been A P Valentine and Halory Hunter.

 Personal life

Pitino married his wife, the former Joanne Minardi, in 1976. The have five living children: Michael, Christopher, Richard (an assistant coach for the University of Florida Gators), Ryan and Jacqueline. Another son, Daniel, died in 1987 from congenital heart failure at the age of six months. Rick and Joanne established the Daniel Pitino Foundation (along with a Daniel Pitino shelter in Owensboro, Kentucky) in his memory, which has raised millions of dollars for children in need.
Their son's death was not the last tragedy for Rick and Joanne. Both were especially hard-hit by 9/11, as Joanne's brother and Rick's closest friend, Billy Minardi, was working as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center when it was struck by American Airlines Flight 11. Since 2002, the University of Louisville has designated a December home game as the Billy Minardi Classic, and the university named a dorm on campus as "Billy Minardi Hall." Only a few months earlier, another brother-in-law of Rick, Don Vogt, was killed after being hit by a New York City cab.

 Extortion attempt against Pitino

On April 18, 2009, Pitino announced that he was a target of an extortion attempt. On April 24, Karen Cunagin Sypher, the wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher, was arraigned and charged in US District Court with extortion and lying to federal agents. On July 9, Sypher told police that Pitino had raped her on two occasions, but the state declined to file charges against Pitino.
On August 11, Pitino admitted to having consensual sex with Cunagin on August 1, 2003 in a Louisville restaurant, Porcini's, where the two supposedly engaged themselves in sexual intercourse under a table. Several weeks later, Cunagin told Pitino that she was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion, but she did not have health insurance. Pitino paid her $3,000 for an unidentified healthcare expense. In addition, Cunagin stated that her estranged husband, Tim Sypher, was paid to marry her.
At a press conference on August 12, Pitino made a statement, in which he apologized for the affair and stated that he would remain as coach. While Pitino's contract allows for his firing for "acts of moral depravity or misconduct that damages the university's reputation," University of Louisville president James Ramsey announced on August 13 that Pitino would be retained in his position.
On August 26, Pitino demanded in a press conference that the media stop "reporting these lies." The conference was called against the recommendations of the University of Louisville and the Louisville police department.

 Head coaching record


Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Boston University Terriers (Independent) (1978–1979)
1978–79 Boston U. 17–9 N/A N/A
Boston University Terriers (America East) (1979–1983)
1979–80 Boston U. 21–9 N/A N/A NIT Second Round
1980–81 Boston U. 13–14 N/A N/A
1981–82 Boston U. 19–9 6–2 T–2nd
1982–83 Boston U. 21–10 8–2 1st NCAA Preliminary
Boston U.: 91–51 14-4
Providence Friars (Big East Conference) (1985–1987)
1985–86 Providence 17–14 7–9 5th NIT Elite Eight
1986–87 Providence 25–9 10–6 4th NCAA Final Four
Providence: 42–23 17–15
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (1989–1997)
1989–90 Kentucky 14–14 10–8 T-9th
1990–91 Kentucky 22–6 14–4 T-8th
1991-92 Kentucky 29–7 12-4 1st / 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1992–93 Kentucky 30–4 13-3 2nd / 1st NCAA Final Four
1993–94 Kentucky 27–7 12-4 2nd / 1st NCAA Second Round
1994-95 Kentucky 28–5 14-2 4th / 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1995–96 Kentucky 34–2 16–0 1st / 2nd NCAA Champion
1996-97 Kentucky 35–5 13-3 2nd / 1st NCAA Finalist
Kentucky: 219–50 104–28
Louisville Cardinals (Metro Conference) (2001–-)
2001-02 Louisville 19–13 8-8 T-8th NIT Second Round
2002-03 Louisville 25-7 11-5 3rd / 1st NCAA Second Round
2003-04 Louisville 20-10 9-7 T-6th NCAA First Round
2004-05 Louisville 33-5 14-2 1st / 1st NCAA Final Four
Louisville (Conference USA, 2001-2005): 97-35 42-22 }}
2005–06 Louisville 21-13 6-10 T-11th NIT Semifinals
2006–07 Louisville 24-10 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Second Round
2007–08 Louisville 27-9 14-4 T–2nd NCAA Elite Eight
2008–09 Louisville 31-5 16-2 1st / 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2009–10 Louisville 20-13 11-7 T-5th NCAA 1st Round
Louisville (Big East, 2005-present): 123-50 59-27
Louisville (total): 220–85 96-46 [20]
Total: 572-209
National Champion Conference Regular Season Champion Conference Tournament Champion
Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion Conference Division Champion


Team↓ Year↓ G↓ W↓ L↓ W–L%↓ Finish↓ PG↓ PW↓ PL↓ Result↓
NYK 1987–88 82 38 44 .463 2nd in Atlantic 4 1 3 Lost in First Round
NYK 1988–89 82 52 30 .634 1st in Atlantic 9 5 4 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
164 90 74 .549
13 6 7
BOS 1997–98 82 36 46 .439 6th in Atlantic 0 0 0 None
BOS 1998–99 50 19 31 .371 5th in Atlantic 0 0 0 None
BOS 1999–2000 82 35 47 .471 5th in Atlantic 0 0 0 None
BOS 2000–01 34 12 22 .371 5th in Atlantic 0 0 0 None
248 102 146 .436
0 0 0
412 192 220 .466
13 6 7 .461

 Coaching succession

Preceded by
Roy Sigler
Boston University
Head Basketball Coach

Succeeded by
John Kuester
Preceded by
Joe Mullaney
Providence College
Head Basketball Coach

Succeeded by
Gordon Chiesa
Preceded by
Bob Hill
New York Knicks head coach
Succeeded by
Stu Jackson
Preceded by
Eddie Sutton
University of Kentucky
Head Basketball Coach

Succeeded by
Tubby Smith
Preceded by
M. L. Carr
Boston Celtics head coach
Succeeded by
Jim O'Brien
Preceded by
M. L. Carr
Boston Celtics
Director of Basketball Operations

Succeeded by
Chris Wallace
Preceded by
Red Auerbach
Boston Celtics
Team President

Succeeded by
Red Auerbach
Preceded by
Denny Crum
University of Louisville
Head Basketball Coach

Succeeded by

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