For all the talk of a new coach to replace Vinny Del Negro from Los Angeles Clippers fans, you’d have a hard time convincing the novice or casual fan the team is coming off two of their best seasons ever. But if Manchester City can fire their manager less than year after the team won its first Premier League championship in 44 years and Chelsea can fire its manager less than a year after winning the UEFA Champions League, then anything is possible when it comes to the “what have you done for me lately” sports fan.
Here is the bad news Clippers fans. In the NBA, the coach matters very little. Why do you think guys like Rick Adelman, George Karl, Rick Carlisle, Byron Scott, get get fired from a team and are almost immediately snatched up by another? Why do you think the Cleveland Cavaliers hire a coach they just fired a few year ago in Mike Brown? Here’s why: It doesn’t make that much difference.
Didn’t Eric Spoelstra start out with the Miami Heat as the guy who did the laundry? Do you know what matters in the NBA? The players. In college basketball it is all about the coach. That is because the coach is also responsible for bringing in the players. He is in essence the coach, GM and team president. Oh sure, he has an Athletic Director to answer to. But in most colleges, that guy is focused on the football team. As long as the hoops coach doesn’t land the program in hot water with the NCAA, he’s pretty much left alone. Plus the stars on his team are only going to be there for one year anyway.
In the NBA, it’s all about the players. You can build a great team through free agency in basketball. In baseball, for example, it is a bit tougher to build a winner by buying one. Look at the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers as examples. So the manager in baseball can make a difference. In baseball, the best players only hit once every nine at-bats and the best pitchers only pitch one out of every give games. In football, your best players play in only half the plays.
In the NBA, your best players can have the ball in their hands as much as they want, shoot as often as they want, and they get to play defense. All the coach has to do basically, is get out of the way. Do you think Phil Jackson‘s 11 NBA World Championships had anything to do with the fact he coached Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant? Duh. A trained monkey could have won with those teams.
You want a better coach? Get him a center that can score, teach Blake Griffin a mid-range game and how to hit free throws, and for heaven’s sake don’t let Chris Paul get away.
Del Negro won’t have to worry. Somebody else will hire him. Just like the Clippers will end up with Stan van Gundy, or Byron Scott, or Doug Collins, or some other coach another fan base deemed a failure. And if you get that coach the right players, guess what? He’s a genius.