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Chron: Coach K wise to get out of Rudy T's way

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rockets34Legend, Jul 6, 2004.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    LEST we forget, Rudy Tomjanovich has survived:

    The streets of Hamtramck, Mich. Kermit Washington. The bizarre executive skills of John Thomas. Pajama uniforms. A run-in with an oak tree. Choke City. Charles Barkley. Game 7 in Phoenix.

    And, oh, by the way, cancer.

    You think the Lakers' flirtation with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made Rudy T sweat?

    You think when Kobe Bryant picked up the phone and dialed Krzyzewski, playing the role of owner, GM, coach and czar of the Lakers because, well, he can, Rudy T's dream job was lost?

    It wasn't. Krzyzewski and the Lakers nearly made a $40 million mistake, something Coach K probably realized on the way to announcing Monday he no longer was a candidate for the coveted LA head coaching job.

    If anyplace epitomizes the theory that money can't buy love, it is Planet Lakers.

    NBA a different world

    As great an X's and O's man as he has been at Duke, Krzyzewski would have been a bad choice for Los Angeles. He might not have failed with the Lakers, but he certainly wouldn't have been a better choice or quicker fix than Tomjanovich.

    In the college game, coaches always have the upper hand and the last word. In the NBA, players do.

    That it was Bryant who initiated talks with Coach K instead of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak should have been enough to convince Krzyzewski to stay in Durham.

    If not that, then the ill-fated attempts by collegiate coaching giants like Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian to conquer the NBA should have made Krzyzewski see the strange, complex new world he would have been entering.

    You want to talk about former Kansas coach Larry Brown's success in the NBA? Don't. Brown knew the pro game as a player and coach in the ABA long before heading to UCLA and then Kansas. And remember, Brown's first season back in the NBA in 1988-89 proved to be a 21-61 disaster in San Antonio, something he talked about during this year's Finals.

    "I wasn't prepared to get back into it at first," Brown said last month of his return to the NBA. "I had spent too much time away. It's a different world when you get here."

    It takes a master juggler

    It is a world to which even Krzyzewski would have had a difficult and long time adjusting, especially with the egomaniacal Lakers.
    The perfect fit for the Lakers was, and is, Tomjanovich. The survivor. The perfect fit is not the coaches' coach but the players' coach — Tomjanovich, who one source said Monday will take the job, bringing in former Rockets assistant Larry Smith and keeping Lakers assistant Frank Hamblen.

    Tomjanovich faces juggling personalities and keeping at least one centerpiece superstar in a Lakers uniform. Don't be surprised if the one Tomjanovich sways is the same one who made the call to Krzyzewski.

    Don't be surprised if the best thing that ever happened to Bryant is the same best thing that ever happened to Hakeem Olajuwon.

    Ironic, huh?

    Here's Kobe making calls across the country in search of someone who understands, someone who listens as much as he talks, someone who can walk with him to a special place. And all along that someone was, in essence, right outside his front door.

    The consensus among those following the Lakers' soap opera is that when Tomjanovich is hired, his first order of business will be convincing Shaquille O'Neal to withdraw his trade demand. History might tell us so, considering Tomjanovich built his title runs around Olajuwon, another dominating big man.

    O'Neal's prospects for a trade have diminished on at least one front. The Mavericks — the presumed front-runner in the Shaq Stakes — no longer appear to have the goods to make the deal with point guard Steve Nash's departure to Phoenix.

    And with Bryant a free agent, the Lakers enter negotiations at best on even terms with other teams willing to pay the high price for his services.

    But this is where Tomjanovich's NBA experience and people skills could trump anything Krzyzewski would have offered.

    In the Lakers, Tomjanovich sees an aging team with diminishing skills. He sees a team that can be stagnant on offense and average on defense. In Bryant — not O'Neal, a dominating big man prone to taking some possessions off and coming into camp out of shape — he sees the best chance for all that to change.

    Tomjanovich is nothing if not superb at recognizing the one player who can lead a team to its best run of basketball, forming a special bond with that player and surrounding him with all the right parts.

    He can take a Chucky Brown and make him a more than serviceable forward next to Olajuwon. He can make the most out of a Scotty Brooks and Matt Bullard, both unselfish and complementary to the focal point in the offense. He can make stars out of the scrappy Mario Elie and the flighty Robert Horry.

    He sees the future of Lakers success in Bryant. He's not sure how much more he sees in O'Neal.

    You think Bryant has burned too many bridges and distanced himself from the Lakers too much to come back now? Tomjanovich has dealt with and endeared himself to tougher nuts than him. Or have you forgotten Vernon Maxwell?
  2. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

    Dec 1, 2000
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    Coach K showed some real smarts in declining. This is the only way for him to retain his god lie reputation. Unlike at Duke, he won't be able to just get all the name players on his team and go from there. Coach K gets 2 to 4 of the top 10 players by reputation per year that enter college bb, he should win some championships.

    There was no reason to think he would do better than other ex college coaches such as Tarkanian or Pitino etc.
  3. Win

    Win Contributing Member

    Nov 22, 2002
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    I could not agree more with this article. Rudy is the perfect coach to pick up the pieces of the quickly disentegrating Faker dynasty and put them back together. God, I hate the Lakers; but will not be able to stop myself from rooting for Rudy T.
  4. haven

    haven Member

    Oct 22, 1999
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    I think it's impossible to say how well K would have done. He's the consensus Greatest College Coach Since John Wooden.

    Of course, Rick Pitino looked like he might take away that mantle at one point.

    Still, way too dismissive of a really great basketball coach. We know Rudy is good. Why couldn't K be better?
  5. qrui

    qrui Member

    Dec 4, 2002
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    is this some kind of competition between kobe and shaq? shaq got them some free, ok almost free, helping in karla and gp last season. didn't pan out. now kobe was like, tsss, i can do better...

    ;) just a weird thought on a slow day.
  6. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

    Aug 15, 2002
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    Coach K would have been terrible, but the lakers had to do something once it got out in the press...Rudy will still want the job, but I would feel unwanted for not getting it out right...

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