Some Love for Coaching
**Editor’s Note: This post is written by the newest SpreeGoogs writer, Lamar, who will be joining the blog writing under the name Dell Johnson. Lamar is a former NCAA college basketball player who also played on the European professional circuit, so he writes from a position of actual experience, unlike the rest of us. He currently writes for Direct2tv.com. You can also follow Lamar at inspirationalbasketball.com
With the NBA regular season over and end-of-the-year awards coming soon, we’re going to take a look at some of the coaches that should be right in the top of the Coach of the Year voting: George Karl of the Denver Nuggets, Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls and Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Each one of these coaches is doing miraculous things with their teams, but what exactly makes these coaches excel with the players that they have?
Young teams like the Nuggets, who lost a mega-super star to the New York Knicks, shouldn’t achieve the things that Denver has this year. The Nuggets recorded a franchise record 55 wins this season, something they couldn’t do with the likes of a star like Carmelo Anthony. Even more impressive, throughout a two-month span, 22 of their first 32 games were on the road. They won 17 of those road games on their way to a 38-10 record to begin the season. This is a testament to their coach, George Karl.
How does Karl do it? Simple, his philosophy for hustling is contagious. If you’re not willing to go all-out on every play, then you’re counterproductive to the system and he gets rid of you. He unloaded Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, NeNe and others; preferring to bring in players like Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried and keep a true point guard in Ty Lawson who all hustles at all cost.
Tom Thibodeau is no different. He has built a group of players who die for defense, with or without their star player, Derrick Rose. For example, Joakim Noah: here’s a man who will block a shot and sprint down court, get in position, then dish out just as much punishment on the offensive end as he does on the defensive end. He is the epitome of Thibodeau’s philosophy: to smother opponents with defense, until opposing teams think they’re playing defense while on offense.
What makes Thibodeau even more special is that he plays the hand that is dealt to him; no excuses for losing franchise player Derrick Rose, but every night that the Chicago Bulls step on the court they give everything that they have. That’s why they are leading a hot Brooklyn team 3-2 in their playoff series.
And finally, there’s Gregg Popovich, the personification of personnel performance. Look at his roster absent his three cornerstones: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. You have Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter as the other two starters and a bench comprised of Danny Green, Boris Diaw, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner and Gary Neal, yet this genius still finds a way to win. Once again, you have basically no-name players that have become household names other teams wouldn’t hesitate to place on their roster; players who are willing to believe and buy into a system.
A system that has championships to prove it works. The resume of Gregg Popovich is just as strong as Phil Jackson; he has four NBA Championships, four Western Conference championships, three NBA All-Star Head Coach Trophies and is a two-time NBA Coach of the year. Who wouldn’t buy into that?