Monday, May 12, 2008

Key to earning players' respect: Help them get better

Saw an article in the Fort Lauderdale paper the other day about new MIA coach Erik Spoelstra, who never played in the NBA.  Of the eight teams left in the NBA playoffs, four have coaches who played in the league at one time (Phil Jackson, Byron Scott, Jerry Sloan, and Doc Rivers).   In fact, Pat Riley, the Heat's last coach, was a nine-year NBA vet.

The article, which discusses the importance of NBA head coaches having experience as professional players, has a couple of interesting quotes from coaches, both current and former.

Chuck Daly:  "Most players want to win.  If they really believe you're a guy who can help them, they will accept you."

Lawrence Frank:  "If you can help guys get better, it doesn't matter if you ever played at the NBA level."

According to the article, Spoelstra, who played in college and overseas, has the four principles that Riley describes as essential to succeed as a coach:  Work ethic, reliability, trustworthiness, and sincerity.

Says Jeff Van Gundy:  "If you have those four things, it doesn't matter if you played in the league or if you didn't, if you're short or tall."

Van Gundy's brother, Stan, who has guided the Magic to the Semis, adds:  "If you are good and competent at what you do, [players] will give you that respect."