Pitino also criticized fans for shooting flares, describing it as "nonsense."
Rick Pitino is joining the crusade against smoking. Specifically, he's combatting your smoking habit in his gym... during his team's games.
Following Panathinaikos' 91–68 win over Peristeri in the Greek league semifinals, Pitino took time to address fans who smoked during the contest and described them as "extremely self-centered and selfish" for doing so.
"I smoke cigars on a golf course, but there's nobody else around," Pitino told reporters. "But you're in an arena and 10,000 are smoking and the players are choking. So, sooner or later, you've got to say: 'Hey man, we're at an athletic event and I'm going to discipline myself and we'll wait until halftime. And I'm going to go out and blow my brains out with cigarettes.' That's your option. But not when there are athletes and there are little kids who want to come to the game. ... But they don't care about young people and the athletes who are breathing it in.''
Additionally, Pitino also expressed displeasure for fans who lit flares during the middle of the contest, too.
"... Somebody is going to get burned and somebody is going to get hurt – to me, I think it's nonsense,'' he said. "I think the fans should pay attention to the team's players and try to get them to play better.''
Of course, this is Pitino's first go-around in Greece, so it makes sense the former Louisville coach is, even this late in the season, still adjusting to the in-game atmosphere. Last December, the 66-year-old took over as Panathinaikos' head coach, later declaring that he's doing so "for a short sabbatical."
Perhaps if fans keep smoking during games, Pitino's sabbatical could be even shorter than expected.