Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One coach's loyalty for another coach

Thanks to Ellis Dawson at USA Basketball for emailing me a good excerpt from Sports Illustrated.

It's an exchange between SI's Peter King and 49ers coach Mike Singletary that (1) illustrates Coach Singletary's depth of loyalty for Coach Nolan and (2) demonstrates the authenticity of Coach Singletary:

On Friday, recounting the story of how he got the 49ers coaching job four days earlier, Singletary got so emotional that he couldn't continue.

I think he was crying, but it's hard to tell over the phone.

"Mike Nolan told me you didn't want to take the job, and he had to convince you to take it,'' I said to Singletary. "Was it that difficult a decision, that emotional?''

"It was ... um ... um ... '' said Singletary.

Then silence. Ten seconds.

"Sounds like it was difficult,'' I said.

"Little bit,'' he said.

Pause. Five seconds.

"I think, first of all, Mike Nolan's a good person. Mike and [wife] Kathy are two of the finest, most giving people I have met in my life. I've watched Mike like a kid would watch his dad, and I've learned so much from him as a coach and as a man. A long time ago, I learned you can find another job, but good friends are really hard to come by.''

Nolan said after he'd been let go, Singletary came into his office and told him he couldn't take the job. They were sitting at a small table in Nolan's office.

"Look at that desk,'' Nolan told him. "It's empty. It's nobody's desk anymore. You're not taking my job if you become coach here. You're helping keep these players together.''

So Singletary took it.

He might have taken it anyway -- my guess is he would have -- but the fact is, out of deference to Nolan, a good man felt he had to get his boss' blessing before taking a job he'd wanted since eschewing a motivational-speaking career to coach in 2003.