Rick Pitino Has Had It With These Greek Fans Smoking During His Basketball Games

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Photo: Petros Giannakouris (AP)

Disgraced former Louisville Cardinals basketball coach Rick Pitino has spent the past six months or so coaching in Greece, where he’s finding success leading Panathinaikos in the Greek League. It’s a madcap new life filled with unfamiliar new experiences, as detailed in this article from The Ringer back in February. But there’s one adjustment Pitino is refusing to make: tolerating cigarettes in the damn arenas.

Via the Associated Press, here’s what Pitino had to say after a win on Wednesday about fans smoking during the game:

“It’s extremely self-centered and selfish of people,’ Pitino said


“You’re in an arena and 10,000 are smoking and the players are choking. So, sooner or later, you’ve got to say: ‘Hey man, we’re at an athletic event and I’m going to discipline myself and we’ll wait until halftime. And I’m going to go out and blow my brains out with cigarettes.’”


While Pitino is absolutely correct that smoking is an efficient way to poison yourself and those around you, that ramp-up into the language of Very Special Episodes at the end is hilariously jarring. “It blows your brains out” is how a seventh-grade teacher explains the effects of smoking weed, and if there’s a cigarette that does that, please let me know.

Pitino is also fed up with fans shooting off flares, calling it “nonsense.” And well, based on this video from The Ringer, he may have a point. This is more than a little scary!

But it’s going to be difficult for fans to kick the smoking habit, or turn their backs on flames in general. As the AP report notes, 27 percent of Greeks smoke cigarettes daily, tied for highest in the EU. And in February, “a top EU health official criticized Greece’s deputy health minister for regularly smoking inside the ministry building.”


Oh and here’s Pitino’s boss, Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos, after he had surgery on a torn rotator cuff:

Maybe Pitino can at least get them to switch to vaping.