The Cleveland Cavaliers shook the league on Jan. 22 when it was determined that taking a team to the NBA finals in one’s first year and leading the time to a 30-11 record and holding down the No. 1 seed in a strengthened Eastern Conference despite injuries was simply inadequate.
As you can imagine, the decision to throw out any sort of objective criteria with which to judge coaching performance was met with bewilderment and frustration amongst the fraternal order of the coaches. Among those giving their opinions were coaches tied with the Pistons past and present.
Leading off this Charles-Dickensian cast of characters is Rick Carlisle:
"I’m embarrassed for our league that something like this could happen….like this. You know, It’s just bizarre. Now, is Ty Lue going to coach the All-Star game for the East? It just leaves you, um, with a...with a bit of an empty feeling."
Carlisle’s comments are especially interesting as he found himself in a similar situation with the Detroit Pistons. After coming in as a rookie coach and leading a team that featured Jerry Stackhouse as its star, and rounded out its starting rotation with Ben Wallace before he was BEN WALLACE, Uncle Cliffy, Michael Curry (known as The Binary Man for his statline) and a combination of Chucky Atkins and fork-stuck-in-his-back Dana Barros at point guard to 50 wins then repeating the feat the following year, Joe Dumars kicked Carlisle to the curb.
The situation, however, was quite different. After all, the Pistons fired Carlisle to bring in one of the coaching legends of the league. It’s not very often somebody with Larry Brown’s resume becomes available. The Cavs, on the other hand, are entrusting their primed-for-a-championship-run to rookie head coach, Tyronn Lue. This is reportedly due to James’ refusal to accept Blatt as a leader. While some loose parallels could be drawn to Ben Wallace’s dissatisfaction with Carlisle as a coach (more specifically, Carlisle’s ‘Ben Wallace should never shoot the ball. EVER!’ policy), the Cavs move can be seen as more egregious due to the fact that they seem to have thrown all coaching criteria out the window to satisfy a star by bringing in a guy who has never been a head coach a day in his life.
Let’s swing by the ghost of Detroit Pistons present. Got anything to say about this, Stan?
"It’s embarrassing for the league, it really is. As I’ve said before, we all get into this and know that no matter what happens - so David Blatt had injuries this year and everything else, we all know that nobody cares about that - you’re supposed to win. He did. He did, and now he’s still getting fired. It’s hard to figure out what it’s all about anymore now, you know. I mean it’s just hard to figure out. I mean that one to me, um, elevated all of the coaching firings totally into the theater of the absurd. It was insane. So we already had Kevin McHale goes to the conference finals and gets fired 11 games into the season. And now David Blatt, so 2 of the 4 guys left standing at the end of the season last year aren’t there anymore, I mean it’s just getting ridiculous. So, I don’t know if anybody knows what the expectations of coaches are anymore."
"If it’s championship or bust and you didn’t like the fact that he didn’t win it last year, why’d you give him 41 games this year? I mean it doesn’t, I mean the whole thing doesn’t make any sense. There’s no logical explanation for it."
Harsh words from Stan Van Gundy, but we know such a situation could never happen to the Detroit Pistons. ...Right? Right? Wait a minute, what’s happening? I feel all heeby jeeby inside. I think Detroit is entering...
The LeBrilight Zone
Just how far will the league trend toward superstar appeasement? Tune in to find out....
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