Pitino led Panathinaikos to a Greek League championship this season.

By Alaa Abdeldaiem
June 21, 2019

Naismith Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino has turned down an offer to return as president and coach of the Greek League team Panathinaikos, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday.

According to Wojnarowski, Pitino is leaving the Greek League in pursuit of an NBA job in coaching, player personnel or an advisory role. Pitino released a statement on Friday thanking Panathinaikos and its fans.

"This past year has been incredible," he wrote in a statement on Twitter. "I'd like to thank all of the PAO players and their terrific efforts. Thanks to my staff for their loyalty and dedication. Thank you to our passionate owner and GM. Lastly, thanks to the great people of Greexe for your over the top kindness and hospitality. Such an awesome country that will always hold a place in my heart. I will miss you all greatly but I am returning home and looking forward to the next chapter in my life."

Pitino finished the season as the Greek Cup and league champion after sweeping the Promitheas Patras in the Finals. Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos previously expressed a desire to keep Pitino with the team, though Pitino had said his chances of returning at the time were "50-50."

Before leaving for Greece, Pitino won NCAA titles at Kentucky and Louisville, reaching seven Final Fours and claiming conference titles in the Big East, SEC and ACC. His national title victory and two Final Four appearances at Louisville were vacated after a slew of scandals led to his firing in 2018.

Pitino coached the Boston Celtics in 2001, resigning early in his fourth season with a 102–146 record. He also coached the Knicks in the late 1980s and reached the playoffs twice (1988, 1989) before leaving for Kentucky.

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