If Rick Pitino’s University of Louisville players ever wonder whether their coach still has game, the answer can be found this week at the Coral Springs Gymnasium, where Pitino is among 400 players competing in the 33rd National Masters Basketball Championship.
Yes, Pitino, 64, ditched his fancy sideline suits this week and suiting up for the 55-over Red Birds. One of his teammates is former NBA player Reggie Theus, who now coaches at Cal-State Northridge.
Pitino scored nine points on a trio of three-pointers on Tuesday, as the Red Birds lost to Bedford 68-52. It was the first time he played in a competitive game in 16 years. Here is what he told NBC6 after the game:
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The Masters Tournament continues through May 13, and includes teams from the U.S. Puerto Rico, Canada, Europe, and as far away as Sri Lanka. NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter is one of the other familiar names competing. The tournament also includes former local prep stars Admore White (Boyd Anderson), Emery Atkinson (North Miami Beach) and Julio Davila (Miami Jackson).
"Over the years we've had many NBA and ABA players in the tournament such as Tim Hardaway, Billy Thompson, Mitchell Wiggins, Artis Gilmore, Jim Barnett and Wali Jones just to name a few, but these former pros quickly find out that their competition out here can compete with anyone in their age group," said Steve Nelson, Tournament Director. "The other players may not have the same name recognition as these former all-stars, but most have competed in the collegiate ranks and all continue to actively play in their local area. These athletes arrive at the tournament each year in excellent condition and play a full week of basketball to be their respective age division's champion."
The 75-plus division has five teams and eight of the players are 80 or older, including 83-year-old Dennis O'Brien, who played at Iona.
Pitino’s team plays again Wednesday at 5 p.m. Admission is free. Here is the full schedule.