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George Irvine reflects on 2000-01

Earlier this week, I reflected on George Irvine's brief tenure in Detroit, which lasted the final months of the 1999-2000 season through 2000-01. As it happens, Irvine actually found my post and left a few thoughts of his own in the comments. After verifying things with the guys at Basketball.org, I'd like to share Irvine's comments here -- after all, it's not everyday a former NBA coach joins the discussion:

Going into the season, I was not expecting to get fired after just one year. We all knew that the Pistons were in a transition phase. We had to be. We were in a terrible position salary cap wise, we had our starting center retire the year before [Bison Dele], and Grant decided not to return.

The hard part in coaching that team was trying to keep the team playing together. We made several changes, getting rid of players with long term contracts, bringing in players on their last year of their contracts. It is a problem for a coach when a player is traded, and the reason given is for "salary cap purposes". Players obviously know they are not in the franchise’s plans for the future, so they, understandably, have a tendency to start looking out for themselves, and their next contract. I was actually pleased that we kept playing hard, and somewhat unselfishly. At least we kept competitive.

I thought Joe did some very good things after I left. After all, he built a championship team, that remains a championship contender today. That is very difficult to do.

I am so happy that Mr Davidson was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I have such respect for that man and it was such a pleasure to get to know him. His integrity is beyond reproach. I wish there were more people like him, whose word is their bond. He has done much for basketball and the NBA. A richly deserved honor.

I did do some scouting after leaving Detroit, as a favor to some friends. I am very happy not working. I had a couple of opportunities to go back to the NBA as an assistant coach, but chose not to pursue those offers. I did help coach one of my boys’ high school team, which I found to be a lot of fun. I have always enjoyed teaching basketball more than coaching basketball. That is one reason why we, the seven of us, our 5 boys, my wife, and I, have started up basketball.org. It will be a site to help younger players and their coaches learn how to play the great game of basketball.