Bitter Sports Rivalry Hits Boiling Point

March 26, 2012 by staff 

Bitter Sports Rivalry Hits Boiling Point, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats and Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals don’t meet until Saturday in the Final Four, but the signs are evident that this isn’t just the latest flare-up of their long-simmering rivalry, or even just an historic, high-stakes meeting between two programs bitterly opposed to each other.
There’s more though: for the first time since the Pitino-Calipari relationship deteriorated a couple decades back, the roles and stakes for these two big coaching personalities have completely flipped.

Pitino, 59, was always the older brother; more successful, more established and more polished – the flawlessly attired New Yorker. He spent forever trying to downplay their relationship and ignore Calipari’s yapping. He did it mostly by projecting an image that whatever he was doing was automatically bigger than anything Calipari could dream up.

Calipari, 53, was the incessant distraction, the blue-collar Pittsburgh product always looking for the fight, for the tweak, for a sign he mattered even as he coached less-resource rich programs. A battle with Pitino would signify they shared an equal stage.

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