Monday, December 08, 2008

Part 2 of the Year-of-the-Coaching Change in the Eastern Conference

Central Division, Continued:

Detroit Pistons: In the same article I linked to on the Cavs hiring Paul Silas, Detroit's more successful hire was also announced. The legendary Larry Brown who has coached a record by far 9 NBA teams (along with four college teams) was probably the most successful of the hires (it would be hard not to be, winning an NBA championship) but more than that was one of the only coaches with any success at all in the Eastern conference in the year - perhaps the height of the Western Conference's superiority which has pretty much lasted the entire decade. Brown actually replaced another fairly successful coach in Rick Carlisle who had been there two years, winning a coach of the year award in his first year, but was fired even after making the Conference finals in his last year. Brown, naturally left as quickly as he came, after two years on the job, only to be replaced by Flip Saunders, who got three years, and three straight years of conference final losses before getting sacked himself. Few teams have been as successful as the Pistons in recent years with so much coaching volatility.

Indiana Pacers: Naturally following the Pistons, the Pacers in a class below the Pistons, started up their season hiring the man the Pistons threw out, Rick Carlisle. Carlisle replaced Isiah Thomas, who as we all know too well, was hired by the Knicks later in 2003 as President, and who remarkably actually did an okay coaching job, making the playoffs every year, but losing in the first round. Carlisle did a pretty decent job as well in his four years, but advanced less far into the playoffs every year - losing in the Conference finals in '04, losing in the conference semis in '05, the first round in '06 and didn't make the playoffs in '07.

Milwaukee Bucks: George Karl, a five team veteran himself, had just finished up his fourth team, a not entirely unsuccessful four year stint as Bucks head coach, and the Bucks hired head coaching newbie Terry Porter, who himself had played under five of the top 36 head coaches of all times in terms of total wins (Pat Riley, Jack Ramsay, Rick Adelman, Gregg Popovich and Flip Saunders). Porter lost in the first round his first year, missed the playoffs in the second, and was out, only to wind up as Suns' head coach a couple of years later.

Southeast Division:

Atlanta Hawks: Finally! The coaching veteran who makes this list thirteen months rather than a clear year, Terry Stotts replaced former Illinois coach Lon Kruger (part of a later series on college coaches who filled in the pros in the late '90s and early '00s) on December 26, 2002. Stotts than lasted all the way to the end of the 2003-2004 season when he was let go and replaced by current Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Stotts got another short chance as head coach of the Bucks, before the Bucks pulled the plug after two years.

Miami Heat: This was the first year of the great Stan Van Gundy experiment - after Pat Riley, who essentially ran the Heat since 1995, decided he wanted to take a break from the strains of coaching, and led Jeff Van Gundy's older brother take the reins. Van Gundy presided over two fairly successful years, and started a third before Riley decided he wanted back in the game, and however it happened, Riley replaced Van Gundy, went on to win the NBA championship that year with the Heat, while Van Gundy ended up coaching the Magic a couple of years later. Interesting fact: You can tell what a lame basketball town Miami is by the fact that the Heat's two retired numbers are Michael Jordan, because he did so well against the Heat (who retires an opposing player's number?) which still is arguably better than their other retired number, Dan Marino, apparently such a good quarterback that his achievements transced and particular sport.

Orlando Magic: Before Van Gundy, there were several Magic head coaches, and through November 17, Doc Rivers was it, when on that day, he was fired, and the Magic hired assistant Johnny Davis took over. Davis lasted a little bit more than a full season, before himself being fired midseason and being replaced by assitant Chris Jent. After Jent, the Magic hired a retread of their first Shaq and Penny glory days in Brian Hill, who couldn't recapture his prior Magic (pun intended).

Washington Wizards: Last, and possibly least, this year saw the Wizards at the beginning of the Eddie Jordan era. Jordan endured a number of highs and lows and a ton of injuries through a relatively long for NBA standards six year tenure. Before Jordan, excellent television commentator and Michael Jordan friend, Doug Collins ran the show for a couple of years, himself replacing one year man and college transplant disaster Leonard Hamilton.

This ends our view. What a time to be a coach!


AndrewEberle said...

This all just goes to show that the East is the worst!

waldinho said...

i didn't actually look this up, but that isn't actually true about the Heat's retired numbers is it? i mean, it can't be true, right? Right?