NBA Napoleon Dynamite by Master PO
As I think back to all the comments posted this past year on the blog site about Doc's coaching skills, my mind quickly reverts back to the 2003-2004 season. No, not the Celtics 2003-04 season, but rather my own season. I was "volunteered" to coach a dozen 11 year-old girls for my daughter's school when suddenly the school's regular coach could not take on that role. I thought growing up as a certified gym rat, and playing thousands of hours of organized basketball would make this an easy task. How tough can coaching be I thought - especially 12 young impressionable girls? I knew there would be some giggling, a certain lack of attention, and I knew we would not be setting any double picks down low for a young female version of Ricky Davis to go up top to take an uncontested 20ft jumper. I incorrectly assumed some well placed yelling, and my vast knowledge of basketball basics, would quickly whip these girls into shape.
I bought a dry eraser basketball clip board, a whistle and went to work. Without giving the gory details, coaching, as one would suspect, is much much easier from the sidelines, or from my couch. The concepts of boxing-out on rebounds, where to be on the court on basic zone defense, not dribbling too much, dribbling with your head up, making strong passes, or simply knowing when to not shoot the damn ball, seem like simple concepts - especially after going over and over and over it.
Unfortunately, I found out quickly 12 girls just didn't "get it" most of the time. Sound familiar Doc? Some girls came to play every game and every practice. Others had a generally bad or lost attitude (yes I had some young female Mark Blount's minus the gum). Some of the girls it seemed assumed I was merely moving my lips in the huddle during timeouts, or at practice, so why listen. Sound familiar Doc? Some ego's quickly emerged about playing time, and who was better about bringing the ball up the court, even though that concept was set from the beginning. Sound familiar? Benching girls because they refused to follow my instructions brought pouting, some very mean looks and even a few tears (call me Bobby Knight). Ego's were bruised. Sound familiar Doc? Simple plays drawn on my fancy shiny dry eraser board, with the fancy eraser, were often ignored once the ball came in bounds. We often failed to execute basic plays at the right time. Sound familiar Doc?
I was so into the game, I often lost track of my timeouts, or did not use them wisely. Sound familiar? I easily lost track of who had played and who had foul trouble. I even lost my own composure once, stormed out on the court and drew the only technical of the season I think by any coach in the league. The referee spent the rest of that game calling all the fouls he could against my team. Sound familiar? I was embarrassed. I did get better as the year progressed, but thank God it was only 15 games not 82. I would have been run out of town, or dead from a stroke.
In the end, I vowed never to coach again. I obviously was not meant to be a coach. I did however walk away with a huge new understanding of what the real coaches must go through at the high school, college or professional level. It really boggles my mind of what that job must be like at the highest level of NBA competition with all the pressures put upon you by yourself and by others. The work load and time that must be invested into that scenario seems incredible. To do all that work, travel all those miles, make all those speeches, and then to not have your players respond, or execute, what you coached and/or preached, must increase the aging process at an accelerated rate that I would never want - at any price.
As I look at Celtics this past year with Doc at the helm, and read all the criticisms of his X's and O's skills, or his lack of good decisions with lineups, rotations, or even decisions at critical moments in the game, it does not take me long to remember it is one damn tough job. Doc earned whatever he made in my humble opinion.
Sure Doc is paid well, and sure he may not be Red Auerbach in terms of coaching, but the guy deserves lots more time with this team we have considering what the hell he started with when he got here. A man needs time to prove his own worth, and Doc is no different as a coach. I am pulling for you Doc. I think you did a great job in year #1. Looking forward to year #2 with lots of hope and Celtic Pride.