Good Bye Jerry Sloan aka Popavich & Collins – The Last Coaches


Well we’re down to two teacher / disciplinarian coaches in the NBA. There are still great strategists (Rick Addleman, Stan Van Gundy), great ego managing talent brokers (Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers), and great motivators (Scott Brooks, Nate McMillan).

Not THAT long ago a handful of old-school curmudgeons, whose ultimate goal was to impart the craft of basketball on to teams of athletes, patrolled the sidelines. Larry Brown melded a group of misfit drifters into a title team that dominated the 3 time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers with flawless execution and commitment to defense and rebounding. Hubie Brown coaxed a team of young Grizzlies who had never sniffed the playoffs into back to back 50 win seasons by putting them into the collegiate style of full five player rotations, disciplined offense (led by White Chocolate himself!), and an exhausting full court press. Pat Riley tricked a team full of overthehill former stars to subdue their own egos and fall in line behind Shaq and Wade for a title run through sheer force of personality.

And of course Jerry Sloan was always there, grumpily calling out pick and roll plays and trying to get his guys to cover for each other on defense with little help from management, who routinely let the team’s best wing athletes leave for $greener$ pastures, and always making the playoffs and scaring a team or two before bowing out to some more talented team. His movement offensive system masked such a lack of explosive scoring, it’s hard to overstate his value. He rubbed some players and fans the wrong way with his tunnel vision, but he will be missed by the diehards.

That leaves newly returned Doug Collins, whose passion and attention to detail has somehow convinced the 76ers to play defense and share the ball for the first time since Larry Brown left, and Greg Popavich, the Tim Duncan of head coaches. All he does is deflect credit, do the little things (working with Richard Jefferson over the summer?, modifying his team offense to utilize the talents of his quick back court over the tried and true post game of his big guy?), grumble at the media, and rule that team with an iron fist.

When those two leave, we can probably change the title from Head Coach to On Court Manager, because it’s not about teaching basketball anymore.


12 Responses to “Good Bye Jerry Sloan aka Popavich & Collins – The Last Coaches”

  1. pmadavi Says:

    Every great manager/motivator has the x and o guy. As much as the trend is to think LESS of younger players, most coaches say players are smarter and better than they ever have been before. Even Sloan said he trusted Williams more than Stock to run his own plays. It could be a shift, or just another phase of a cycle, but right now it’s more about getting guys heads right than timing and discipline. Doc is a perfect example. The Celtics are a well oiled offensive machine. Doc’s no dictator, but they get the job done anyway.

    • jpalumbo Says:

      You mean you don’t need to be a firm disciplinarian on a team with Garnett and Allen to set everyone straight?

      Jason Palumbo

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. jpalumbo Says:

    Also should we assume that Sloan thought Williams was a smarter basketball mind than Stockton or that he had to give Williams more control to keep him in the fold? Stockton actually liked for Sloan to call the plays. He still looked to the sideline when he was 39 years old, which I’m sure had nothing to do with a lack of knowledge, confidence, or control of the offense. He was John Stockton.

    • pmadavi Says:

      I’m just dispelling the notion that a disciplinarian teacher is needed because today’s players are “so and so.” 10, 20 years ago it was an expected characteristic in a coach. Now a days, players hate it. They’re perfectly capable without it. I see no reason for hard ass model to continue.

      • jpalumbo Says:

        I don’t think I said anything bad about today’s players, did I? I just think guys like Sloan, Pop, LB, and Hubie have a way of imposing order on a group and getting a team to be more than the sum of its parts while simultaneously growing players like Pop did with Jefferson this summer or Hubie did for JWill or Brown did for Chauncey. Your Phil Jacksons are great at getting a team of already developed talent to come together and achieve its potential, but I think the structure is important for less developed guys. Take the Bulls and Bucks under your buy Scott Skiles (whom I forgot in the title).

      • pmadavi Says:

        What does it say about him that he starts off well with every franchise and then drops way off. The players are sick of him. He has had some horrible seasons and is barely a winning coach.

      • jpalumbo Says:

        Find me a team without a hard ass coach or a hard ass captain that ever won it all. Russ, MJ, Riley, Bird, Brown, Garnett, Bryant, Holtzman, Popavich, West… I guess Shaq and Phil weren’t domineering…

        Jason Palumbo

        Sent from my iPhone

      • pmadavi Says:

        Rudy and Hakeem’s Rockets too. Daley’s Pistons? Anyway, Sloan has zero rings, for all his toughness and teaching . . .

  3. High Above Courtside Says:

    Stan Van Gundy a great strategist? If you say so

  4. Ravenation, L.L.C. of North America Says:

    I like the disciplinarian guys. It gives the NBA more of a college atmposhere to it, only with more skilled players, thus producing a better product.

    I think the fans like it too.

    I turned into an ice cream cake one time when I was fifteen years old. I never played basketball again. Why are you guys always yelling at me on this site?


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