Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Learning from coaches outside of the U.S.

Read a story from ESPN The Magazine the other day about the likelihood of a Japanese manager taking over a Major League team in the near future.

The article quotes the legendary Sadaharu Oh, who belted nearly 870 homers in his Japanese career, as saying:

"I hope people will recognize our baseball style, too, and want to learn from our philosophy and technique."

It's good advice. As coaches (and members of the world community), we can and should learn from other cultures.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni has talked about how much his time in Italy influenced his teams' style of play and coaching philosophy. [By the way, Mike has said that he read about a book a day during his first few years in Italy.]

In Golden State, our staff spent time studying Argentina's national team and its early offense. In fact, we used a version of it in our "Quick Strike" offense after free throws.

Over the last year, I've gone through footage of more than 50 games from overseas. I caught several others on NBA TV. I'm heading to Greece soon for a clinic where I plan on spending time with coaches from various European clubs.

A few years ago, I attended a coaching clinic in Barcelona, Spain, that was incredibly insightful, featuring several remarkable coaches who most Americans have never heard of. I really gained a new respect for what they're doing outside of the U.S.

Of course, there are some good conferences/clinics in the U.S., as well. Last summer, I had the chance to attend a clinic in Tunica, Miss., that Memphis Coach John Calipari and Larry Brown put on. What a great experience.

Years ago, American coaches spent their summers at clinics. Many still do, but not as much as in the past. With so many AAU tournaments, recruiting pressures, scouting, and summer leagues, clinics have lost a lot of their popularity. That's too bad.

In Europe and Asia, clinics play an important role as coaches come together to learn, share ideas, and network. As coaches in the States, it's something we should consider doing more of.