Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Life of an NBA Coach: Don't Step on a Landmine!

In general, professional sports are ruthless when it comes to hiring and firing coaches. But nothing holds a candle to the NBA. Don't get me wrong the NFL and MLB are tough, but the NBA is downright cut throat.

And it needs to stop. This is not right. This is not just.

Two prime examples stick out to me the most: Sam Vincent and Avery Johnson. Both coaches were recently fired, and frankly, I believe they were mistakes.

Exhibit A: former Charlotte Bobcats coach Sam Vincent

One year ago Vincent was the talk of North Carolina as UNC grad Michael Jordan recently hired him to be the new coach. Vincent was going to the next best thing to coach in the NBA, but MJ seemed to think it was time to part ways with Vincent after one year.

That's right, after one season Jordan felt a new guy was needed. Correct me if I am wrong, but Jordan has not had was you could call the most "stellar" NBA front office career so far. Wouldn't you think that giving your team's coach needed, I don't know, more than one year to show his potential? I mean one year? That's absurd.

Sure Charlotte went 30-52, but I do believe it was the franchise's best record ever and believe it or not the 'Cats finished a mere 7 games out of the 8th and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

I don't get it. I would think that MJ would realize getting a solid basketball team is not a quick fix solution. So why Jordan, why fire your coach after one season?

Exhibit B: former Dallas Maverick coach Avery Johnson

It is the 2006 NBA Finals and it is Game 3 between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. Dallas currently leads the series 2-0 and is up by 13 with about 6:40 remaining in the game in Miami. Before long it should be 3-0 Dallas! The trophy will be heading to the Texas city in no time!

Then Dwyane Wade came alive and just like that Miami stormed back to win the game...and the next three games.

The Mavs would never be the same.

Ever since the losing the 2006 NBA Finals Dallas seems to be taking more and more steps back. Last year the team was a league best 67-15. As great as their record was the Mavs were manhandled in six games by the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors. Flashforward to this year where Dallas is struggling midseason. The team makes a blockbuster trade for Jason Kidd, yet in the the end same result: first round series loss in 5 games to New Orleans.

Avery Johnson the coach of the Mavericks during the city's up and down times was brought in for Don Nelson as the coach who would lead Dallas to promised land (well, he got halfway). The coach was a star in the making, yet in such a short amount of time that all changed. Johnson is unemployed for the wrong reasons.

Cuban, like Jordan, got frustrated and in my opinion will not get a better coach than he had in Johnson. Dallas lost something inside themselves when Miami defeated them. Something that no matter how hard Johnson pressed on would not change in his players. For one, it seems Dirk is universially now known as a flake come playoff time.

Did Cuban get it right firing Johnson for back-to-back playoff exits? I, honestly don't think so. Sure you can say, "Dallas wasn't going anywhere!" But, to be frank I think that has to do with the players on the team. Cuban will find out in a hurry that he had a good coach in Johnson who just needed some time to get over the hurdle...and when he does Cuban will be kicking himself for letting him go in the first place.

Two first round exits are bad, but keep in mind this year Dallas was going against the 2nd seeded team in the New Orleans Hornets. When you look at Avery Johnson's three years it really can be seen that in fact his "failures" were nothing more than blown out of proportion situations.

Note: Avery Johnson is going to get snagged by someone. Here's my shot in the dark: LA Clippers. Also, reports are saying that Larry Brown is headed to Golden State to coach the Warriors....

in two years...

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