With another NBA season upon us, I recently texted outgoing NBA monarch David Stern — maybe the most fan-friendly despot in despotic history — and suggested the league require all head coaches to wear name tags, at least until the all-star break.
Because of the NBA’s 30 teams, 13 have new head coaches.
Erik Spoelstra, with consecutive NBA titles, enters his sixth season in Miami, giving the Rogaine-free Heat coach the second-longest same-team tenure in the league.
Everyone else, other than Gregg Popovich, pretty much just started last week.
If NBA coaches worked for the government, they’d be non-essential employees. They’re the world’s most expensive temps.
The Obamacare webmaster has greater job security than most NBA coaches.
Now, I’m about to tell you some stuff that you’re not going to believe, but you’re going to have to believe it because it’s all true.
● Vinny Del Negro got fired by the Los Angeles Clippers after leading the team to a franchise record for victories.*
● Lionel Hollins got fired by the Memphis Grizzlies after leading the team to a franchise record for victories and the Western Conference finals.
● George Karl got fired by the Denver Nuggets after leading the team to a franchise record for victories and ninth straight playoff appearance.
* — I must defend the Clippers’ personnel move because, frankly, every time Del Negro called a timeout, he looked as if he were about to order a pizza from Domino’s. I mean, come on, Del Negro vs. Popovich is like Gomer Pyle vs. General Patton.
Meanwhile, since December 2010, the Charlotte Bobcats have had four coaches.
And in 2010, the Cleveland Cavaliers replaced Mike Brown with Byron Scott, then, in 2013, they replaced Scott with Brown.
(You might have to read that previous sentence again to realize they fired Coach A and hired Coach B, then fired Coach B and rehired Coach A. As a one-time courtesy, I will not name the team owner responsible for this, but he makes Daniel Snyder look like Conn Smythe.)
Six of the 12 teams that changed coaches after the 2012-13 season made the playoffs. The 13th change occurred when Doc Rivers suddenly realized he preferred L.A. weather and traffic to Boston weather and traffic, and was traded to the Clippers from the Celtics.
If I had my own sports-talk radio show or cable talking-head hour, I would pose the following question at this point:
How come the NBA is in the throes of so much coaching upheaval?
(When you have your own show, you have to use expressions like “in the throes” that you would never say in everyday conversation.)
And my answer would be:
I don’t know.
(Note to aspiring radio and TV talkers: If you say, “I don’t know,” too often, they take away your microphone very, very quickly.)
I tried to contact Rick Adelman — who has coached more than 1,700 games over 22 seasons — to get his take on the matter, but I have no idea what NBA city he currently resides in.
I can offer one historical tidbit, to provide some perspective on the NBA culture — in 1977-78, the 76ers fired Gene Shue at 2-4 one season after he led the team to the NBA Finals.
Anyway, to celebrate the NBA’s unprecedented not-so-merry-go-around, Couch Slouch now will reprise one of our favorite parlor games. The following paragraph contains the names of five incoming NBA coaches and five U.S. senators. Get ’em all right and you can be a guest cohost on ESPN’s “First Take” (pending my ability to contact producers there; FYI: They have no idea who I am):
Brett Brown, Sherrod Brown, Steve Clifford, Jeff Sessions, Mike Budenholzer, Mike Crapo, Michael Bennet, Michael Malone, Tim Scott, David Joerger.
For those of you struggling with the name puzzle, I’d like to pick up your spirits by telling you that Joey Crawford will be returning for his 37th season as an NBA referee.
Q. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson has changed his shooting hand. You appear to be in a slump — ever consider changing your writing hand? (Ben Jacobs; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
A. Slump or not, pal, I am literarily ambidextrous — I actually dictate all my columns while luxuriating in a bubble bath, with PBR-in-a-can on ice.
Q. Overall, who is the better strategist, Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz? (Michael A. Becker; Clayton, Mo.)
A. Schottenheimer — Cruz never had to work with Kellen Clemens or Brady Quinn.
Q. How do you explain Tim McCarver’s inclusion in the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame — blackmail or bribery? (Perry Beider; Silver Spring)
A. It’s possible Hall of Fame electors had the sound down during most of McCarver’s 34-year broadcasting career.
Q. Is it just me, or does Mike Shanahan always look like he just swallowed a nasty-tasting bug? (Dan Johnson; Cross Junction, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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