Rick Pitino: Nick Calathes a better passer than Magic, Bird, or anyone else

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In 129 career NBA games with the Memphis Grizzlies, Nick Calathes averaged 2.7 assists per game. But according to Panathinaikos head coach Rick Pitino, neither Magic Johnson, nor Larry Bird, nor Isaiah Thomas, nor any other player he’s ever seen, can hold a candle to Calathes when it comes to passing prowess.


In 21 games this year playing for Pitino in the EuroLeague, Calathes has put up some big-time assist numbers. He’s averaged 8.3 per game, hitting double digits eight times, rounding out a solid stat line that includes 11.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.

We won’t argue against Calathes being a phenomenally gifted passer. But to say he’s better than Magic? Or Bird? That’s just nonsense.