- - Sunday, March 11, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Disgraced, disgusting, despicable basketball coach Rick Pitino says he wants to coach basketball again.

Yay! Yay! Isn’t that great?

Imagine, after all that Pitino has been through: Fired from the University of Louisville for his school’s role in the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption and allegedly paying players illegally. Which followed the investigation several years ago that discovered an assistant had provided strippers and prostitutes to players, which resulted in the school being stripped of its 2013 NCAA national championship). Which followed Pitino’s own scandal of his affair with the wife of a Louisville equipment manager that resulted in her extortion of Pitino, which included stories of sex in the booth of a Louisville restaurant.

But, apparently, Pitino is ready to return to college coaching after just resigning weeks ago.

What is this? Redemption?

Boy, we love redemption, don’t we?

Somehow, if and when Pitino returns, he will evolve into a victim, and be celebrated for overcoming obstacles, like allegations of paying players and giving them hookers, to again be considered a role model for young college men.

Here’s a lesson Pitino won’t be teaching them — shame.

Shame has gone the way of the cassette tape and the phone booth — obsolete, a trivia question, a nostalgic T-shirt.

In the process, we have twisted the concept of redemption into something cheap and meaningless. Get caught cheating? Embarrass yourself and your loved ones? Break the rules, break the law? Not once, but repeatedly?

It’s OK — you’re just a victim.

Like Michael Scott said, “Everybody deserves a second, second chance.”

Pitino is already using this playbook. After being fired by Louisville in October after the news broke about the federal probe into college basketball corruption and the school’s involvement, Pitino told reporters recently he was “finished in this business. I really am.”

Turns out he was just a victim

“Every night I go to bed, I’m bitter at the U.S. attorney’s office and at the ‘board of traitors’ at Louisville,” Pitino told ESPN. “I’m not bitter at the school, but at the board of traitors.”

Root for Rick. He is back, baby, ready to coach and set an example again. As we have been told time and time again, America loves a comeback story — apparently however warped and shameful it may be.

Which brings us to Alex Rodriguez.

The two-time admitted liar about using illegal performance drugs in baseball — whose presence was so abhorrent to the game he was banned for a year — is about to host a new television show on — guess what — redemption.

A-Rod’s show — “Back in the Game” — premieres Tuesday night on CNBC. It will feature A-Rod advising former Maryland star and NBA player Joe Smith, who apparently has lost most of the $60 million he made playing basketball.

In a press release, CNBC said A-Rod will be as the SXSW festival in Austin on Monday to “discuss the highs and lows of his storied career … as well as his future in mentoring other athletes.”

Victims upon victims. So much redemption.

Of course, there is the patron saint of redemption — Tiger Woods.

He was chased down the driveway of his home by his wife with a golf club after she discovered one of nearly two dozen mistresses he had affairs with.

He was questioned in a federal investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of his doctor for peddling performance-enhancing substances illegally. And less than a year ago he was arrested for DUI when Jupiter, Fla., police found him asleep in his Mercedes on the side of the road around 3 a.m. with what turned out to be five different drugs in his system.

“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart,” Woods said in his 2009 apology statement. “I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.”

“I would like to apologize with all my heart to my family, friends and the fans,” Woods said in his 2017 apology statement. “I expect more from myself, too … I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again.”

As Woods captured the attention of the sports world in one of the numerous redemption phases of life, competing for the lead in the Valspar Championship on Sunday, he remained on probation for that arrest.

Yay, Tiger. Rick and A-Rod say go get ’em.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.


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