HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The truth can be painful to hear, even if you have to wait a while to hear it spoken aloud.
And especially if it’s coming from the mouth of the man charged with the immense responsibility of making (or breaking) your team.
It’s not often you hear a general manager in the NBA, or any sport for that matter, speak candidly about what he could have done better.
Kudos to NBA icon, logo and former Lakers and Grizzlies boss Jerry West for giving up the goods to Ron Tillery of the Commercial Appeal the way he did when discussing his tenure in Memphis:
Q: What move have you second-guessed the most?
A: My biggest disappointments came when we were in position in the lottery to get a franchise player and we never got one. I think the lottery is flawed. If we would have gotten a branded player, this franchise would have been much further along and they still would have Pau Gasol there. It’s so much easier to build when you have two really good players. I think about the time when it came down to us for one of the first two picks. There was LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and we didn’t get any of them. The other time (in 2007) when we could have gotten a good player, Al Horford would have been great next to Gasol. And let me tell you, Mike Conley is going to be OK. He’s going to be in the NBA for 12-14 years. But that’s the one thing we missed: somebody who played the game at a high level and became a branded player. Those are people that brand your team and help franchises win.
Q: But is there anything you would have done differently?
A: Oh gosh, yes. The year we drafted Drew Gooden. He has been in the league a long time. But we could have had Amar’e Stoudemire. He would have added some cache and star power to this team. It’s not that Drew is a bad player but Stoudemire is a star. We didn’t look at him the way we should have. And you know, everyone thinks the Grizzlies have done a terrible job drafting and they haven’t. The Griz are ranked ninth in drafting in terms of their history. But I’ll always take the blame for players who didn’t turn out the way we would have liked. Overall, fans can be very critical and it’s easy to be critical. But they’re not as critical as those of us who work in these positions.
West is a Hall of Famer with impeccable credentials as a player and executive. So he could have easily glanced over whatever transgressions occurred on his watch with the Hang Time Grizzlies.
But he didn’t.
He admitted his mistakes, try getting some of the decision makers in any venture to admit specific mistakes and watch them squirm like a politician on the hot seat.
If only some of his general manager brethren, past and present, were brave enough to admit mistakes!