Wednesday, July 4
Seattle's New Head Coach
I woke up this morning ready to give P.J. Carlesimo a break. Let’s be honest, in a perverted way, Carlesimo has become the Kermit Washington of coaches – a man whose entire career has been, as the Sonics’ new head coach puts it, “defined by one moment.”
And that’s unfair. Latrell Sprewell has gone out of his way since the choking incident to prove that he’s not the mellowest fellow on the planet, and if making Rod Strickland upset sentences you to coaching prison, well, there’s going to be plenty of inmates in that jail cell.
As I was saying, I woke up this morning ready to extend a hand to Carlesimo, but, quite frankly, after reading the media’s reaction to his hiring, and the quotes they provided, now I’m not so sure.
"I've wondered for several years now why more people haven't attacked P.J. to come run their program," Gregg Popovich told a San Antonio newspaper last month. “It shows how little people look at what's needed to run a program and how much they look at superficial stuff that means nothing.”
Well, that’s one way to look at it. Another way would be that after 5 ½ years as a head coach, Carlesimo has yet to win a playoff series. And those Blazer teams weren’t devoid of talent, either. Two years after Carlesimo was fired, that Portland team (with 3 of the same starters) was in the Western Conference Finals.
As for the Warriors, Carlesimo took them from 30 wins to 19 wins in his first season. (Bizarrely, this will be the first time in P.J.’s career that he won’t be replacing Rick Adelman, as he followed in Heir Rick’s shoes in both Portland and Golden State. Want to hear something even more bizarre? Carlesimo’s father was the head coach at Forham University, as was Bob Hill.)
Anyways, to say Carlesimo is being judged solely by the choking incident is unfair. He’s also being judged on a middling-to-poor record in the NBA. Yes, he’s been at Popovich’s side for half a decade, and he surely has picked up useful information about the Spurs’ “culture” (ugh) in doing so. Yes, he has supposedly mellowed in the intervening years, as the cold, hard hand of reality smacked him across the face so that he may wake up to the fact that unless he changed his personality, he would never draw a paycheck as a head coach.
Can people change? Of course. Personally, though, I’m not interested in whether Carlesimo becalmed his inner anger.
I’m more interested in seeing if he can win a playoff series.
Posted by PN at 10:20 AM