Obama on Winning Coach: 'He Didn't Do Any of This Alone'

By Susan Jones | July 24, 2013 | 8:17 AM EDT

President Barack Obama and Louisville men's basketball Coach Rick Pitino hold a Louisville basketball jersey as they pose for a photo with the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions Louisville Cardinals, Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama welcomed the NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals to the White House on Tuesday, praising some of the star basketball players by name, then noting that Coach Rick Pitino is the first coach in history to win a championship at two different schools.

"But Coach understands he didn't do any of this alone. As he said, 'Players put coaches in the Hall of Fame,'" Obama said. But Pitino's record shows that he's the one who's made winners out of his players, not the other way around.

The president has used a similar refrain -- that success is always a collective achievement -- in the political arena.

Last July, at a campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., the president was speaking about "wealthy, successful Americans" who "want to give something back."

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Look, if you've been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

Pitino is the first NCAA coach to lead three different teams to the NCAA Final Four, taking two of them on to championships. One of his online biographies mentions his "talent for rebuilding and re-energizing stumbling organizations," indicating that while victory may be a team effort, the critical element is the individual team leader.

Pitino also is a motivational speaker and the author of three books on leadership.

In "Success Is a Choice," Pitino offers a "ten-step plan of attack that will help you become a winner at anything you set your mind to," according to the blurb on Amazon.com. In "Lead to Succeed," the "master motivator" says great leaders aren't born that way -- and he explains "how to cultivate the traits that all great leaders must possess." Amazon describes "Rebound Rules" as a "manual for overcoming life's difficulties and resetting your worldview for a fresh start."

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