Blog Entry

Coach of the Year Curse

Posted on: December 3, 2008 7:07 pm

Philadelphia -- The Raptors' firing of Sam Mitchell may have taken some by surprise. Not Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

Jackson took note of Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo's presence on Toronto's current road trip and thought it was a pretty clear sign Mitchell was in trouble.

"Some friends said [Colangelo] felt he had to go out and watch the team and that caused some suspicions on my part," Jackson said Wednesday night before the Lakers played the 76ers. "There had to be something going on there."

There was, none of it good. Toronto (8-9) lost to the Lakers on Sunday, then got blown out, 132-93, in Denver Tuesday night. Mitchell, the 2006-07 NBA coach of the year, couldn't survive that fiasco.

"It’s the curse of the coach of the year," Jackson said. "It’s a thing that we’ve seen time and time again. A guy takes a team that is struggling, rights it and gets it going, and then a lot’s expected. This year’s been a real struggle for them. But he’ll find another job. He’s done a good job."

Mitchell orchestrated a 20-game turnaround in Toronto, guiding a team that won 27 games in 2005-06 to a franchise record-tying 47 wins in '06-'07. The Raptors won 41 games last season, making their second straight first-round playoff exit.

"When you’re not doing as well as we think we should, or someone thinks we should, then it happens," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We understand when we take these jobs that expectations and things happen, and we have to live with the good and bad."

Cheeks could be next on the list. The Sixers were expected to make significant strides this season after adding Elton Brand, but they're 8-10 entering Tuesday night's game against the Lakers. Sixers president Ed Stefanski, addressing reporters before the game, gave what sounded sort of like a vote of confidence in Cheeks. The key phrase occurred when Stefanski said he and Cheeks are still communicating. When communication breaks down between a coach and his GM, it's over for the coach.

"Mo is coaching. The players are the players," Stefanski said. "They all have to figure it out, with me. OK? We talk and communicate daily to try to straighten this out. But all of us, including everyone in that locker room, are not happy that we're 8-10 right now."


Category: NBA

Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: December 10, 2008 12:52 am

Coach of the Year Curse

I completely agree with McMillan being a good coach.  The interesting thing about it, is that he says that he wants to be like Jerry Sloan, which I find (vicariously) flattering for coach Sloan. 
Another slap in the face that I just learned about was the fact that Sloan was in line to be the next head coach of the Olympic team in 2000 I believe.  He was the assistant the time before, and the way it had worked up to that point was that the assistant became the coach the next time around, and the Olympics slapped him in the face and decided to pick someone else.  It was Rudy Tomjanovich, which is a good choice to coach, but it could have been handled better.
Anyway, hopefully he will get the Hall of Fame nod this year, and maybe we'll get lucky and the voters will realize the Jazz have already lost more games to injuries so far this year than ALL of last year, and are still competitive.  They won a game without D-Will, Boozer, and that's impressive.

Since: Aug 3, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2008 12:32 pm

Coach of the Year Curse

The difficulty with naming Sloan as COY is that his teams are usually pretty good. He's only had a couple of bad years, and when he's turned it around, there has been another franchise that had a bigger turnaround. He'll get it someday, based upon his body of work. It's kind of like the actor who finally gets an Oscar, even though its far a sub-par performance.

I think McMillan has a great shot at it this year. He is doing as good as or better job of coaching than last year, as he has several new players on the team, and they are even younger than last year. So not only is he winning games, but he is teaching the NBA game to the likes of Fernandez, Batum, Oden, & Bayless. Plus it seems he is learning along with his players how to adjust to the personnel they have, learning what different guys can do, in different rotations, against which opponents, and so forth. Plus he is starting to learn to let his players have a little more of the reign, especially Roy.

(Of course, if Pritchard traded McMillan for Sloan, it wouldn't particularly bother me.)

It remains a long season, and a lot can still happen.


Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2008 8:54 am

Coach of the Year Curse

He probably did, cause it was another turnaround year.  I have a lot of respect for McMillan actually, I think he is a good coach.  But I wonder if he is the better coach this year, or last year when he didn't have Oden in the middle and was winning games?

Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2008 8:52 am

Coach of the Year Curse

They also had a couple winning seasons before he got there.

Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2008 8:50 am

Coach of the Year Curse

Which is another reason that he is a good coach!  He doesn't care about this award (although, I'm pretty sure that he would love to put the award on his mantle somewhere).  What Sloan does care about is wins and losses and getting the most out of his players.  He gets players like Shandon Anderson and Bryon Russell and turns them into NBA players, and then when they leave they are nothing on their new teams.  And look at this year, so far his team has a great record and has played most of the season without two of the three of the Olympians that are on the Jazz.  It's good to see that most people agree with me.

And by the way to the poster that asks if I'm, yeah I am.  I am a fan of a team that wins a lot of games, but has never won the Finals.  They are coached by a guy that is tough as nails and all of his peers agree with me.  He is consistently voted as one of the best coaches in the game by the players and by other coaches....yet the media votes for Sam Mitchell, or Hubie Brown, or Avery Johnson, or (insert name of coach that won 55 games after being hired on a team that lost 55 the year before and then loses 55 the next year and gets fired), or (insert name of one of the 200 plus coaching changes since Sloan was put in as Jazz coach).

Since: Feb 18, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 2:19 am

Coach of the Year Curse

i find it interesting how every year this same debate comes up and every year everyone talks about why jerry sloan hasnt won the award yet and how he deserves it and everything.  dont get me wrong, i love the jazz and i respect the hell out of sloan, probably the most consistant coach to ever lead a team in any sport (just ahead of bobby cox leading the braves to 14 straight division titles) but the thing that i find most interesting is that every year sloan has the same opinion of "coach of the year", he doesnt care.  all he cares about is coaching and winning. 

Since: Jan 31, 2008
Posted on: December 4, 2008 10:19 pm

Coach of the Year Curse

I can't stand the Jazz but I have to agree with you. Sloan is an amazing coach and it's unbelievable that he has not won it even once.Unfortunantly my boy Nate McMillan is gonna win it this year. HOLLA!

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: December 4, 2008 7:05 pm

Coach of the Year Curse

Thank you for that very loud comment.  I've always thought "Coach of the year" was a poor choice of an award, mainly because there are so many factors that can be considered in a turnaround.  This article confirms that, because Coaches of the Year are typically named because teams with the same players turn around under new administration, and the motivation is typically just growth within the players.  I agree with Sloan, because I've seen the Nuggets get destroyed year in and year out by the Jazz, but he'll have to settle for a hall of fame career rather than a coach of the year award for the same reason a Piston never won an MVP:  Consistent winning isn't as exciting as a turnaround.

Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: December 4, 2008 6:29 pm

Coach of the Year Curse


Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: December 4, 2008 3:29 pm

Coach of the Year Curse

I could say the same about K.C.Jones

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