Posts Tagged ‘eddie jordan’

Coaches Honor Fitch With Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award

Bill Fitch

In the 1980s, Bill Fitch led Boston to an NBA title.
(Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO — These days Bill Fitch gets a special kick out of tuning into postgame news conferences and hearing players say they won’t really know what happened in the game they just played until they look at the video.

That’s because Fitch was sometimes mockingly called “Captain Video” in the early part of his 25-year NBA coaching career for using videotape to analyze opponents and scout talent.

But what was once a joke became a standard and integral part of the game, making Fitch a pioneer. That, along with his 944 career wins and penchant for turning bad teams around, has earned him the 2013 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association. He received the award Tuesday in a presentation prior to Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

“To be honest, I never really thought being known as Capt. Video was a bad deal,” Fitch said. “Other people could laugh and tease all they wanted. The truth is I was glad to that nobody else was doing it, because I thought it always gave our teams a big advantage.

“If you could see my closet today, it’s crammed full from floor to ceiling with old tapes and now with DVDs and I’m still doing film for different people. I still love the competition and the strategy.”

Fitch ranks eighth on the all-time win list and his 2,050 games coached is third. He is a two-time Coach of the Year winner (Cleveland in 1976 and Boston in 1980), led the Celtics to the NBA championship in 1981 and, after moving to Houston, took the Rockets to The Finals in 1986. He was also named one of the NBA’s top 10 coaches of all-time in 1996-97.

The NBCA Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award commemorates the memory of the Hall of Fame coach who won a pair of championships with the Pistons in 1989 and 1990 and led the 1992 USA Dream Team to the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.

“I’ve always said that being a coach made me able to live a life where I never, ever felt like I had a job,” Fitch said. “Honest, it wasn’t about the money. It was about the feeling that I was never working, because I was doing something that I loved. It was about the competition all those relationships that were built.

“I guess what this means is that I’m 81 and going the wrong way. But seriously, anytime you get an honor from your peers it means a lot more. I’m humbled by it. It’s always great to be recognized by the guys you worked with or against. Coaching is the biggest fraternity there is and I’ve always felt like I’ve had more brothers than I could count.

“Chuck especially was a great friend and to get an award named after him makes me immediately think of all the experiences and stories we shared, some of them that could even be printed.” (more…)

Surprise! League Execs/Insiders Favor Heat, Thunder And Lakers This Season

In what has to be the most dependable vote we’ll see this election season, a smattering of anonymous NBA executives and coaches have chosen the Miami Heat as favorites to walk away with the Larry O’Brien trophy at end of the 2012-13 season.

According to the unofficial poll conducted by our main man Sam Amick of, it’s a three-team race this season between the Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder (with those second two often in flip-flopped order, depending on the ballot). But in the view of the 20 league insiders, it’s strictly a three-team race:

The final tally, with three of the voters submitting only first-place votes: The defending champions in Miami received 16 first-place votes, one second-place vote and two third-place votes; their Finals foe, Oklahoma City, garnered two first-place votes, six second-place votes and nine third-place votes; and the Lakers, who have added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, got two first-place votes, 10 second-place votes and six third-place votes. The Lakers may not be seen as the favorites to win it all, but the idea that they’re the top threat to the Heat is not only a topic of much discussion in the media but also clearly a very real sentiment in NBA circles.

For good measure, my top three — with all of us playing in this pretend world where everyone is fully healthy — would be the Heat, Lakers and Thunder. Reality, of course, may be something altogether different.

Tempting though it was to put the Lakers in the hypothetical top spot, there is a laundry list of factors to keep an eye on as their star-studded season unfolds: the health of Howard, who is still not doing on-court activity after having back surgery in April; the age and mileage of Nash (38 years old, 16 regular seasons and 118 playoff games played) and Bryant (34, 16 regular seasons and 220 playoff games); the question of chemistry and whether Bryant will defer enough to let Nash work his magic while keeping Howard happy enough in his new locale that he wants to re-sign as a free agent next summer; and the installation of Pete Carril‘s famed Princeton offense (former Wizards and Kings coach Eddie Jordan, a Carril protégé, is expected to be hired as an assistant and do the teaching under defensive-minded head coach Mike Brown).

We’re not sure how excited we are about our extra early preseason view of the title contenders coinciding with that of so many league insiders, since we’ve never been particularly fond of the herd mentality that has permeated the front offices of so much of the league.

Then again, what other threesome would you choose right now?


Brown Embraces Lakers’ Sky-High Hopes

HANG TIME, Texas — You don’t have to warn Mike Brown about expectations next season with the Lakers. This is, after all, the guy who lived with the would-be championship burden of LeBron James sitting on his back in Cleveland.

Sure, the Lakers have added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, among others, to their roster this summer. Sure, he can feel those 16 previous championships staring down from the rafters and the record books.

But in an in-depth and quite interesting Q & A with Brian Kamenetzky of’s Land ‘O Lakers blog, the coach says, in short, bring it on:

“That’s what I like about this job,” Brown said. “The level of expectations that we have as an organization doesn’t sit with just making the playoffs. Every year, ownership and management want to compete for a championship. As a coach, I don’t know why you would want to be put in any other situation, unless you’re just happy getting a paycheck or being a coach in the NBA. I want to be put in a situation where year in, year out I have an opportunity to win. You know? In my opinion, that’s my dream and should be the dream of anybody that’s a competitor. This situation warrants that.”

In his first season with the NBA’s most high-profile coaching job, Brown inherited a talented, but flawed, team that was never able to develop consistency during the post-lockout schedule and may have maxed out its potential just by getting to the West semis against Oklahoma City. That won’t fly this time around, especially when many have always dubbed the Lakers as the team to beat — ahead of the defending champion Heat and Western Conference champion Thunder.

“Everybody says that — expectations, expectations, pressure, pressure, pressure. Pressure to me occurs if you’re not prepared, and we’ll be prepared.

“Having said that, yes, you understand people’s thoughts and expectations, but I’m telling you this: I don’t think there was anybody last year that expected us and said it was OK that we got knocked out in the second round, or that we didn’t win the West. I don’t think there’s one person in L.A. that can honestly say they didn’t expect more. (more…)

Kobe And The Lakers Go To Princeton

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Kobe Bryant‘s championship window with the Los Angeles Lakers is closing, but it’s not shut yet. Especially not with Steve Nash coming on board next season.

Nash, whose teams led the league in offensive efficiency for nine straight seasons from 2001-02 to 2009-10, will clearly improve the Lakers’ offense, which ranked 10th in efficiency last season. But L.A. isn’t only counting on a new point guard to get them back into title contention.

As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes, the Lakers will be switching to the Princeton offense next season and hiring Eddie Jordan as an assistant coach to run it.

Jordan happens to be the foremost Princeton authority in the NBA, the heir to architect Pete Carril, and that’s an immense part of why the Lakers are moving toward an agreement to hire Jordan as an assistant coach. Jordan sold his vision of the offense to a most willing subject, and ultimately Bryant departed for these Olympics convinced that the Lakers have a sound plan of action for the 2012-13 season.

“It’s a great offense,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s exactly what we need. It takes us back to being able to play by making reads and reacting to defenses. It takes a great deal of communication, but that’s where we’re at our best: Reading and reacting as opposed to just coming down and calling sets. Calling sets make you vulnerable.

“There’s so many threats, so many options, it’s very tough to defend. Against the type of defenses that teams play nowadays, they load up on one side and are constantly coming with help from the weak side. The Princeton offense makes it very, very tough to lock in on one particular player.”


Wittman to return, Flip pleased

BOSTON – No one is happier that Randy Wittman apparently will continue as head coach of the Washington Wizards than the man whose firing opened the job for him.

Flip Saunders, who was fired in January with a 2-15 record, said that Wizards management did more than just promote his top assistant coach, who is expected to have his interim tag removed with a new contract in the next week or so. The brass also  addressed some of the team’s issues once Wittman was in place, not that those were secrets prior to Saunders’ dismissal.

“Where I feel good is, there were a lot of things that I thought had to be done with that team when I was there,” said Saunders, who has been working as a consultant for Boston’s Doc Rivers during the playoffs. “When Randy first took over, they didn’t have great success until they did what they needed to do with some of the guys and changed the roster. And they got better.”

For example, a young but immature nucleus of JaVale McGee, Nick Young and Andray Blatche was broken up for Wittman – the first two traded, the third shut down when he ballooned out of shape – even though Saunders said he raised that red flag last season. Washington also acquired center Nene from Denver, who only played 11 games with his new team but gave it an inside presence and a veteran who could command attention off the court. Adding solid role players James Singleton and Cartier Martin helped too, Saunders said.

“I knew what needed to be done,” said Saunders, who went 51-130 in Washington after leading Detroit and Minnesota to 11 playoff appearances in 13 seasons. “Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to see it through. But Randy’s my guy. And the staff there are guys basically that I hired. So I feel good about that too.”