High School basketball isn’t something we really cover on Barstool, but Gene Pingatore is such a legend that I felt like I had to blog it. If you’re not a Chicago guy and are reading this you probably remember him from the documentary “Hoop Dreams”. He coached William Gates and Arthur Agee at St. Joseph High School in Westchester and caught heat for how he was portrayed in the film. I didn’t know him personally, but there were many people that said he kind of caught a raw deal on the whole thing.
I can’t really speak for that, but what I can speak for is that he was the winningest coach in Illinois High School basketball history going 1,035-383 during a 50 year career and was prepping for year 51 of coaching as late as last weekend at a Summer League game at Riverside-Brookfield.
He coached numerous NBA stars, most notably Isiah Thomas who posted a heartfelt message for him on Twitter:
Being a St. Pats guy I’ll never forget some of the battles we had against St. Joes and just the aura Gene Pingatore carried with him on the bench. It’s always weird to watch a living legend and he was just that.
One game in particular that sticks out was during my sophomore year they were ranked #3 in State and were on a 50 game ESCC win streak. They had a couple guys named Evan Turner & Demetri McCamey if you’ve ever heard of them and we beat em on their home court after Sam Maniscalco dropped 30. Incredible game.
Rest in Peace, Gene.
P.S. – If anybody has any stories to share I’d be happy to paste em into this blog. Just reach out to me at email@example.com
Update: Patrick from Class of ’05