For some folks in the Big Blue Nation, Rick Pitino isn’t a real popular guy, especially for coaching at a rival school like U of L. But you have to admit he did a pretty good job with his latest book titled, “The One-Day Contract” (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99).
I certainly enjoyed reading recently-published Pitino’s basketball stories, including the Cardinals’ 2013 championship season and his UK days during the 1990s when he was the Wildcat boss.
The U of L mentor discusses his past success as well as troubles, including the highly-publicized federal extortion case a few years ago. And his 260-page literary effort is more than just a sports book as it details his key to overall success in basketball and life — focusing on making the most of each day by having a contract with yourself.
Helping Pitino with this book project is co-author and sports journalist Eric Crawford, a former Courier-Journal sports columnist who now writes and appears on the air for Louisville’s WDRB-TV.
Crawford told this columnist that he never thought he’d be interested in working with a big-name coach.
“Pitino, however, had this idea that he wanted to write about dealing with life’s most difficult situations,” Crawford said. “Knowing that he’d been through that, some self-induced, some which hit him from the outside, I thought he had a unique perspective on those kinds of things, and the book might be worthwhile.
“I think what came across to me through the process of writing this book is the process of change over time. We all grow, or change, depending on what events we experience. Someone with Pitino’s range of events can’t help but be changed in various ways by them, and I think we see that in his life and career, and I think the book does a good job reflecting that.”
Pitino, who wrote some portions of the book longhand on legal-sized pads, begins the book with a valuable lesson on humility, a quality that is needed for sustained success. The coach admits that he is guilty for not having humility for much of his career.
His biggest regret? No, it wasn’t leaving UK in 1997 for the Boston Celtics, said the U of L boss. Pitino said his biggest regret was not being humbler at an earlier age.
Then he moves on to the subjects of focus and technology as well as other relevant topics for a productive career or life. Pitino points out that focus begins with knowledge and research. It is intentional. It doesn’t just happen.
On his favorite parts of the book, Crawford commented, “The obvious chapter that people deal with, I think, is Chapter 4, in which he talks about the difficulty of dealing with the extortion situation and especially the trial.
“But I also think that Chapter 9, which deals a lot with the (current U of L junior guard) Kevin Ware situation and lessons from that, is one worth looking at. I went through a lot of Ware’s mail to learn the impact that his injury had on people from around the country. That’s a section of the book that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention.”
In addition, there is a chapter, titled “The Trap of Technology,” and I really enjoyed that one. I agreed with Pitino that social media, like Twitter and Facebook, often leads to anti-social behavior and loss of personal communication skills.
The 61-year-old coach adds that social media, along with the Internet, have trained our brains to lose focus like no generation of people before us ever has. He also feels Twitter leads to lack of humility because it really is all about self-promotion.
Speaking of co-author Crawford, he is a Kentucky native who lived in Shelby County during his childhood. Even though Crawford is a graduate of U of L, he grew up a big UK fan.
“My dad (ex-columnist/TV journalist Byron Crawford) was close with Cawood Ledford and Bill Keightley,” said the younger Crawford. “I remember during Kyle Macy’s senior year (at UK), he wrote an appreciation column for Kyle, and talked about how I tried to pattern everything I did after him, and that he was glad that Kyle was such a good example.”
So Eric Crawford has connections to both rival universities. “I feel like there are ties that bind me to both schools,” he said.
For Crawford, the book project has been a very interesting one.
“One of the big draws for me in this book was the chance to be around probably the central figure in the sport of basketball in my lifetime, at least in the state of Kentucky,” added Crawford. “You have to lay aside some of your journalistic objectivity when you take on a project like this. But I do think the experience has been worth it.”
And, in my opinion, this motivational book, which is filled with many captivating stories or tidbits, is a worthwhile reading, getting a good grade of B.