What’s going on in the NBA? A new coach is seemingly getting fired on a weekly basis. At the end of the day, it seems like there is so much more going on here than simply bad coaching.
So who’s to blame?
Let’s do a quick recap of the bigger names out of a job.
- Kevin McHale: fired 11/18/15
- Lionel Hollins: fired 1/10/16
- David Blatt: fired 1/22/16
- Jeff Hornacek: fired 2/1/16
- Derek Fisher: fired 2/6/16
- George Karl: job apparently saved last night, was told he would be fired on Monday
Let’s start with McHale, shall we? The Rockets were indeed 4-7 and suffered consecutive ugly losses including one to the lowly Nets, but it was 11 games into the season. A few months prior McHale brought the same Rockets team to the Western Conference Finals, where they ran into a Golden State Warriors team that nobody can figure out how to beat.
McHale was a dead man walking. Dwight Howard is still an amazing basketball player, but has seemingly been an off the court headache for quite some time. James Harden runs this team — and rightfully so. But there were long rumors that Harden and McHale didn’t see eye to eye.
Hollins is understandable. The Brooklyn Nets are atrocious, but is that his fault? Their roster is a joke and has been since they moved to Brooklyn. You can’t play Draft Kings on the floor of the Barclays Center and the Nets are still recovering from Mikhail Prokhorov trying to do so. This team is so poorly managed, they have no GM heading into the trade deadline. A team with players they need to desperately move has NO ONE to negotiate deals.
Yea, Hollins was the problem there.
Then came the coup de tat in Cleveland. I never cared for LeBron James. To be fair, I never cared for Michael Jordan either. That didn’t mean I didn’t love watching them play the game, I just couldn’t stand how they let their greatness control them at times.
Firing David Blatt was a disgusting move by the Cavaliers, and no matter what King James and his loyal servants say, they were a part of it. I wrote how the Cavs should have learned from the New Jersey Nets precautionary tale in the early 2000s, but they didn’t listen. At least Lawrence Frank started 15-0, Tyronn Lue lost his first game and the Cavs are 8-3.
Poor Derek Fisher. Phil Jackson is getting the Knicks back to respectability, but come on. That roster is not a playoff competitive roster yet. I love watching Kristaps Porzingis as much as the next guy, but a head coach with no experience didn’t stand a chance with that roster. You all know I am a Syracuse guy, and I love Carmelo Anthony for what he did there. But he is not that player in the NBA, and he is quite arguably the most overrated “superstar” in the NBA.
Like I always said, you can’t spell Melo without Me first.
The point is that back in my day — which was the greatest era of NBA basketball — coaches seemed to have more control. They had more staying power that’s for sure. Heck, Bill Fitch won 43 games his first TWO seasons at the helms of the Nets and still didn’t get fired. Blatt was 30-11 and got the axe.
I feel like the players are partially to blame, but so are the executives for taking into account their wishes. When Hollins got fired from the Nets, there was a report that no player on the Nets liked him. The report suggested that they believed in his game plan, but that they didn’t like his approach to speaking to them in the locker room.
Now, I am not saying Hollins was the right choice, but follow this rationale with me: the Nets players said they believed Hollins was the right guy to coach them because he was fundamentally sound but just mean to them. So, Hollins — whom the players openly admitted had the right playbook — would often get angered with a team that couldn’t perform the playbook and were an abysmal 10-27 at the time of his firing. Hey, Nets, I would be pretty angered too and considering that you are 4-13 since getting him axed, it doesn’t appear he was the problem.
I think a large part of the problem is the maturity level of today’s players. Here take a look at this:
- Charles Barkley: three years at Auburn
- Karl Malone: three years at Louisiana Tech
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: three years at UCLA
- Michael Jordan: three years at UNC
- Larry Bird: three years at Indiana State
- John Stockton: four years at Gonzaga
- Magic Johnson: two years at MSU
See a trend there? Those are just a group of guys from my childhood that I consider legends. Now look at this:
- LeBron James: No years at college
- Carmelo Anthony: one year at Syracuse
- Kevin Durant: one year at Texas
- James Harden: two years at Arizona State
- Russell Westbrook: two years at UCLA
- Steph Curry: three years at Davidson
You’ll see where Magic was the outlier with two years during the 80s generation, Curry is the oddball because he went to college for three years. He kids, want to hear something crazy? Tim Duncan — the guy with so many rings he needs to start on a new hand — went to college for four years.
I get it. If you can go and sign the big paycheck and play on the national stage, you have to do it. But the maturity level of today’s game is certainly different. It seems like these players have never been told no, and when they don’t like something, they voice their opinion and get their way.
I don’t care if they are 22-31. I don’t care if their best player in DeMarcus Cousins (one year at Kentucky) doesn’t see eye to eye with his coach, George Karl is a Hall of Fame coach. The guy has the fifth most wins of all time. The guy deserves more than a year to get this team straight. He’s not the problem.
Again, some of these coaches being fired were at the helms of some pretty dreadful teams. But also again, I’m not so sure that they are all entirely to blame. I know I am — and have been for some time — a bitter old man when it comes to today’s NBA. Look what I got to watch, wouldn’t you be?
Sure, MJ and Doug Collins had their differences, but that is remembered because it was a rare case back then. Coaches had more control and certainly more staying power, and often commanded what they wanted when they wanted. Today’s NBA is definitely a different game.