LOUISVILLE HOOPS coach Rick Pitino has been whipping teams into shape with astonishing success for 30 years, and has been charging up audiences as a motivational speaker for two decades, a combination, he's learned, that lends itself to the occasional book. His bestselling Success Is a Choice came out 11 years ago, before Pitino had endured his most conspicuous professional failure: going 102--146 over three-plus seasons as president and coach of the Celtics. That experience, along with the tragedy of losing a brother-in-law in the Sept. 11 attacks, give his new HarperCollins book, Rebound Rules: The Art of Success 2.0, a welcome tinge of humility. Pitino hits on the theme repeatedly in exploring how to reverse tide after reaching a low ebb.
It's an immensely readable book—Louisville sportswriter Pat Forde is Pitino's co-author—arriving at a time when the nation, it seems, is on the down and out. Pitino's rebound strategy is clear if not revolutionary. Now apt to honor those around him after realizing he "probably received too much personal credit" for his achievements, Pitino reveres near workaholism; strict self-discipline (he writes down every single thing he eats each day to ensure a balanced diet); and the power of praising others ("When people feel extraordinary you get extraordinary results"). Pitino's intense daily pace might not be sustainable for most humans, but this is a guy, after all, who's taken three schools to the Final Four.
Details from the court—the uneven development of Louisville point guard Edgar Sosa, say, or Pitino's regret about trading Chauncey Billups from Boston—enliven a book also enriched by disparate sources. A brief excerpt from Tom Sawyer is followed by philosophy from thoroughbred trainer Nick Zito. "Before honor, humility," Zito preaches. That's a concept that Pitino, belatedly, he admits, has finally gotten around to.
ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES (PITINO AND SOSA)
HANDS ON Pitino wants Sosa to listen to his coaches, not the hype.