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Loyalty means nothing in the NBA
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prodson
Posts: 20886
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6/18/2003  3:09 PM
Winning, Loyalty, Fairness
Don't Get Much in NBA


By STEVE ASCHBURNER


There can be no method to the madness that has infested the NBA's coaching ranks and board rooms these days. But there have been lessons aplenty. Some old, some new. Some that illuminate new trends in pro basketball and sports in general, others that simply remind us how ridiculous these boys and their toys can be:

Lesson No. 6: Winning isn't everything -- it might not even be anything. Paul Silas got the Hornets to the playoffs four times in five years, and got fired. Rick Carlisle won 100 games in his first two seasons in Detroit, picked up coach of the year hardware as a rookie and got the Pistons to the Eastern Conference finals this spring, and got fired. Lenny Wilkens? Merely the winningest coach in NBA history and yes, he got fired, too.

Lesson No. 24: Loyalty is best left in the dictionary, wedged between laughable and lunacy. Silas didn't just get his team to the playoffs most seasons. He helped hold the club together after Bobby Phills' tragic death, endured all sorts of indignities and embarrassments under owner George Shinn and was a swell NBA ambassador in the club's first season in New Orleans. Then there's Larry Brown, who thanked the 76ers for releasing him from his non-compete clause by jumping to an Eastern rival that had just dispatched them.

Lesson No. 53: There are only 29 teams in the NBA but there are 32 or 33 head-coaching positions. Usually, TV networks huddle people in a "green room'' before putting them on the air. But with pro hoops, the studios and the broadcast tables are the great green rooms of coaching. Donning headphones and spending a season or two second-guessing other guys' decisions has become the equivalent of Monopoly's Free Parking space, where the coaches-in-waiting do get to pass Go, do collect $2 million and soon are back in the game.

Lesson No. 53(a): If there are 29 or 30 jobs, there are only 38 or 39 men eligible to fill them. Look at the names floating around again. Besides all the broadcasters, you've got Mike Dunleavy, P.J. Carlesimo, Eddie Jordan, Jim Cleamons, Del Harris... all swell guys who, let's face it, are more than a little familiar and have been fired elsewhere. At least fellas like Dwane Casey and Kevin O'Neill are fresh, deserving of their chances to be fired for the first time and, thus, gain instant access to the never-ending carousel.

Lesson No. 89: Sports, like life, isn't fair. Carlisle is out of work, but the guy who led Miami to a 25-57 record and second straight lottery berth isn't. Silas had to update his resume, but guys in Milwaukee and Minnesota whose teams have been postseason flops didn't. Don Chaney goes on and on in New York, but Dennis Johnson might just go in L.A.

Lesson No. 137: Turnabout is fair play. Three years ago, Brown was so fed up with his superstar that he had a deal worked out sending Allen Iverson to Detroit. Now he has shipped himself there, presumably paying the $100 change fee on the ticket.

Lesson No. 211: Stick around long enough and you will be revered. OK, it hasn't happened yet for Kevin Willis, but it has happened for Brown. The basketball lifer is a fine teacher and a pillar of the game, but he never has won a championship and only got to the Finals once, in 2001, with Philadelphia. Gee, if Tim Floyd had been able to hang in there another 25 seasons with Chicago, they might have been cozying his statue next to Jordan's outside United Center.

Lesson No. 296: Everything old is new again. Speaking of Floyd, his abject failure in Chicago apparently wasn't enough to keep him from serious consideration as Silas' replacement with the Hornets. It's a New Orleans thing, obviously, perfect for a place that buries its dead above ground. Still, it would be interesting to see what the guy could do without a triangle-offense hanging from his neck, Jerry Krause breathing down it or size 36 sneakers to fill from the Jordan-Pippen-Jackson legacy in Chicago.

Lesson No. 344: Minutes are a coach's only hammer. When Cleveland general manager Jim Paxson allegedly sniffed around about Jeff Van Gundy's willingness to guarantee minutes to box-office baby LeBron James, Van Gundy ran screaming from the shores of Lake Erie. NBA players barely listen to coaches now, but one thing that does get their attention is playing time. They know who has earned it and who has not, and that's essential for any sense of team chemistry. Any GM who would take that stick out of his bench boss' hands deserves to coach that looney bin himself.

Lesson No. 405: Help out the anthem singer at your own risk. By putting his arm around that anthem-stammering sweetie and earning a warm, fuzzy collective "aaaawwwwww!'' from sports fans everywhere, Portland coach Mo Cheeks screwed up his chance of interviewing for the Philadelphia job when it came open. No team needs warm and fuzzy more than the Blazers, so they were determined not to give permission for their community-friendly coach to possibly get hired away by Philadelphia.

Lesson No. 488: It's the owner's toy. If we are to believe the stuff shoveled out of Detroit, Carlisle got dumped because he didn't kiss up to the Pistons' suits, including owner Bill Davidson. Dallas' Mark Cuban left Don Nelson twisting in the wind far too long, his coaching vs. personnel future unsettled until last week. And are we the only ones who suspect that Washington's Abe Pollin orchestrated the whole Michael Jordan-in-the-executive-washroom scenario just to diss him for that smart-alecky crack ("Maybe you should sell!'') during the 1998-99 lockout?

Lesson No. 500: Owners are, duh, stupid. There is the annoying assumption that NBA owners, because they have been so successful in other commercial ventures, automatically are brilliant and crafty when it comes to running their little teams. So why, after losing millions each in a nasty lockout to shore up their salary-cap rules, would they drive up the price of head coaches -- uncapped -- to $5 million or more per season? Why would they fire one lug, only to turn around and hire someone else's fired lug, thereby paying two lugs at once?

Lesson No. 533: Players pay attention to this stuff. The same guys who can't remember the drawn-up play in the seconds that elapse from timeout to inbounds pass don't miss a trick as they watch management make fools of themselves with all this hiring and firing. Do you think that makes them more likely -- or less likely -- to buy into a franchise's claims of long-term vision, fiscal responsibility, building from within, sacrifice and shared rewards?
all those years as a fan and now i'm the anti-knick. life is crazy aint it.
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prodson
Posts: 20886
Alba Posts: 0
Joined: 4/14/2003
Member: #395
Colombia
6/18/2003  3:11 PM
i think he forgot a lesson

Lesson No. 1: you can't pay admission at the door with Loyalty
all those years as a fan and now i'm the anti-knick. life is crazy aint it.
Loyalty means nothing in the NBA

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