CHICAGO – When Brian Shaw turned right out of the elevators Monday morning, he walked past racks of Joseph Abboud suits, with a tailor on duty to take custom measurements, next to a table covered in swatches of the clothier’s finest material. Over to the left, a display of Allen Edmonds shoes was set up, with a vast array of leathers, colors, soles and styles.
Welcome to the NBA head coaching ranks, Mr. Shaw. Suit and shoe stations are part of the drill each autumn at the annual Windy City meeting arranged by the National Basketball Coaches Association. And with nine men entirely new to the ranks of 30 for 2013-14, there were more customers than usual looking to upgrade from “assistant coaches’ budgets to head coaches’ budgets,” as Shaw said.
“My players over the last couple of years have clowned me a little bit about the style of my suits,” said Shaw, the Denver Nuggets’ new bench boss after two seasons on Frank Vogel‘s staff in Indiana. “Y’know, ’cause I’m old school. I’m more from the looser fitting, kind of baggy, longer suits.
“Now what fashion is, everything’s more European and fitted. My wife has been trying to get me more into the present age. My players as well. So I took a leap of faith here to go with a little more fitted suits.”
The coaches’ meetings each September are great for the wardrobe and even better for basketball. The 2013 edition is the 10th such gathering, according to NBCA executive director Michael Goldberg (they skipped the 2011 lockout year). Most of the league’s coaches were scheduled to attend – Houston’s Kevin McHale and Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks were known to have conflicts – with arrivals during the day Monday, a working dinner in the evening and meetings set for Tuesday morning and afternoon.
On the agenda: officiating “points of emphasis” for the 2013-14 season, a business report, topics generated by the competition committee and a lot of conversation.
“It’s really an opportunity for the coaches, the league office and a number of the officials to get together in a relaxed setting to share thoughts,” Goldberg said.
The Chicago sessions come hard on the heels of a weekend clinic/retreat in Los Angeles, organized through the Clippers, that served as a basketball exchange for head coaches, assistants, scouts, video crew and other staffers, general managers and other team executives. Among the featured speakers: Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Doc Rivers.
“For a young coach, you just learn so much from something like that,” Shaw said. “Everybody’s sharing, what they think and how they do things. I feel like, as a coach, I’m a teacher. But teachers always have to learn, too.”
Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau, who holds his X&O cards as closely as anyone, said he was happy for assistants such as Shaw, Mike Malone (Sacramento), Steve Clifford (Charlotte), Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta) and Brett Brown (Philadelphia) who – like Thibodeau – earned the opportunity of a top job.
This is Thibodeau’s third Chicago meeting, since taking over the Bulls in 2010. He sounded eager to hash out some rules interpretations, the sort of thing he probably does for fun in his spare time anyway.
“Each year it gets better,” Thibodeau said. “After a summer of watching our games [from last year], watching how the restricted area’s being officiated is always something I’m concerned with. I think initially the offensive player was getting the benefit and they were throwing themselves into the defensive players and getting to the free-throw line.
“Then I think the officials adjusted to that – but now maybe going the other way. There are a lot of guys who are fouling in the restricted area and the defense is getting the benefit of the doubt. So I’m curious to see how that changes.”