While the Los Angeles Clippers are currently looking for someone to fill their head coaching vacancy, former head coach Vinny Del Negro sat down with ESPN’s Mike & Mike to discuss his firing from the team and Chris Paul‘s say-so on the coaching situation:
In a piece that T.J. Simers did in the LA Times in which he interviewed the owner of the Clippers Donald Sterling, Sterling said the coach is a wonderful man. I’m sad about the whole thing. He said I always want to be honest and not say anything thats not true so Id rather not say anything. The coach did a really good job and i liked working with him. There are just factors that make life very complicated and very challenging. The clear feeling here that he was giving, the owner was giving, is that the players, and maybe Chris Paul in particular, are the reason why you’re not the coach of the Clippers anymore. What do you think happened?
Vinny Del Negro:
Well there’s a lot of things in there, but everyones entitled to their opinion, but obviously with Chris being a free agent and things obviously they were compelled to make a decisions in terms of letting the players or player dictate how he wants to run things and thats just part of it. Im very proud of what we accomplished there. It was an unfortunate situation. I was happy to be part of the group that was very successful there and try to change the culture and environment and we were able to do that, but that was the decision the owner had to make that he was, i don’t want to say forced into, but kind of felt he needed to do.
So those of us on the outside, when we see this especially people who aren’t associated with basketball at all, they would be like wow how can a player have this much power. On the inside you’ve been in this game a long time. is it just basically somewhat accepted that this is kind of how it works in certain places?
No, no. I mean you have to understand. They (Clippers) haven’t had the greatest tract record in the past and we were able to change that the last few years and you only do that with outstanding players. Having Blake and obviously Chris and just a lot of guys we were able to bring in, so there was a lot of commitment there from ownership and everyone working together to do that. So, no, they don’t. I think it’s a big mistake in terms of letting players dictate that. I don’t think you can be as successful as you like to be when you’re letting players dictate as much as its being dictated there, but thats their decision and like I said, I had a tremendous time there, enjoyed working with those guys and obviously the record and the success speaks for itself.
Do you feel bitter? Do you feel angry at anyone in particular in this case. Again the success speaks for itself and you’re now sitting there looking for a new job. Do you feel angry at anybody?
I don’t know if angry is the right word. Obviously I’m disappointed. A lot of effort went into getting there and kind of changing things and putting a lot of effort and sweat equity into kind of taking time. I mean everyone wants everything now, but it takes time. There’s a process involved you have to go through. You have to go through the experiences as a team together and the teams that stay together with continuity with stability and work through the issues that you have in terms of preparation, developing young players, the draft, making deals, putting the right players around your top guys and then building a system and foundation that can be played at a high level for a long time and put yourself in position to win a championship so those things that everybody wants now, they have some great pieces there. I feel bad for my staff. my assistant coaches and my staff have worked tremendously hard and have been very diligent and consistent with their work ethic in terms of supporting me but more importantly developing the players and putting a culture and environment there that gives the guys an opportunity to be successful. So I’m disappointed with that, yes.