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What is the Pitino Game?

If you follow any NBA writers or broadcasters on Twitter, then there’s a high chance around March time your timeline will suddenly explode with #pitinogame and seemingly random comments about famous to obscure NBA and NCAA players that “ain’t walking through that door”. Well what exactly is all that about? Who appointed ESPN analyst Amin Elhassan the judge? Most importantly why do some of the suggestions pass muster and why are some met with the “you don’t get the show” meme.

What is the Pitino Game? During any elimination basketball game, usually the NCAA, down the stretch when the trailing team is getting desperate followers of Amin Elhassan (@DarthAmin) on Twitter will often tweet him using #pitinogame. If they have followed the rules correctly, they may be rewarded with a re-tweet and his approval. If they haven’t – they may also get re-tweeted – but with his disapproval, most often a meme of Papi Le Batard and the phrase, “you don’t get the show”.

So that’s it really. It’s as simple as that. However for such a simple game, with 2, maybe 3 rules, there’s a high volume of people that end up getting scorned by the “hate hard king”. Read on to understand the origins of the game and how to stay on the right side of @DarthAmin.

What has the Pitino Game got to do with Rick Pitino?

On March 1st 2001, during his rocky three and a half season run as Boston Celtics head coach (102-146, 42%) former Kentucky Wildcats coach Rick Pitino gave a post-game press conference. It came following a home defeat at the buzzer to Vince Carters Toronto Raptors, it would become infamous.

In an ill-fated attempt to defend his young team from what he saw as unfair fan and media expectations, he would use the phrase:

Larry Bird’s not walking through that door fans, Kevin Mchale’s not walking through that door and Robert Parish is not walking through that door

Rick Pitino, March 1st 2001

By referencing the Celtics past greats, he meant to draw attention to the fact that this was not the mighty Celtics of the 80’s. Fans and media shouldn’t expect them to perform like them, he went on to say his young team were out there working hard. As excellent as this may be from a coaching standpoint, it went viral – in an age before things went viral. This was “take that for data” before social media even existed.

This is the origin of the phrase “Larry Bird ain’t walking through that door” basketball fans everywhere replace Larry Bird’s name with that of a former player on the team who are trailing in the game they are watching. That’s the basis of The Pitino Game. So how does this random event near the turn of the century end up plastered all over Twitter in the form of the Pitino Game every Spring? The answer to that lies in Amin Elhassan former job as video editor on the Phoenix Suns.

The Origins of the Pitino Game

While working as a video editor for the Phoenix Suns Amin had the unenviable task of trying to fit entire NBA games onto a single, regular play DVD. He couldn’t use the long play function as it would have degraded the quality. These were for the coaches and players to use for scouting and analysis purposes. He would clip out all the usual time outs, ad breaks and non-basketball related footage. This would leave just the game action and important multi angled replays and it would usually just about fit onto the DVD. However, sometimes toward the end of games that were clearly lost the losing coach would call time out’s and run set plays. Essentially extending the game footage slightly, this would be a frustration to Amin and his co-workers as they would be at risk of not being able to fit the entire game onto the single DVD as planned. Eventually when this happened, they started using the phrase from Rick Pitinos Celtics press conference to express their frustration. Changing the name of the player to make it relevant for that team. “Oh come on Popovich, David Robinson ain’t walking through that door!”. Over time they would start trying to get the most obscure players into the phrase, they had a wealth of knowledge to draw on. This would eventually filter over into Amin’s Twitter timeline. Initially low key, but as people caught on and his visibility in his new roles with ESPN helped swell his follower numbers the #PitinoGame would take flight, becoming the juggernaut it is today.

What are the rules of the Pitino Game?

Not unlike Fightclub, the first rule about the rules of #pitinogame is that you don’t talk about the rules of #pitinogame. Or at least the Hate Hard King himself doesn’t. He prefers that you work it out for yourself, that way only genuine fans of Basketball can take part without having the meme dropped on their timeline. So, I’m not going to sit here and type them out for you. If you have read the above and understand the origins of the Pitino Game, I’m sure you can figure the rest out on your own. Although sometimes a curve ball like the below Tweet might throw you off the scent.

What is the “you don’t get the show” meme about?

ESPN’s long running The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is a sports talkshow that often features Papi Le Batard (Dan’s father). It is Papi’s picture in the Patino Game meme. The phrase “you don’t get the show”, comes from a repeat segment/bit that they do on the show. It has a cult following and you can even buy “you don’t get the show” T-shirts, phone cases and other apparel.

Amin, who is associated with the show, uses this “bit” in the form of the Papi meme to call out participants of the Patino Game for not understanding the rules.

When can I play the Patino Game?

You can play the Patino Game whenever you want, just be prepared to be shut down by Amin Elhassan – The Hate Hard King if you don’t understand it.

No one is safe.

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