TNT analyst Kenny Smith is in the running for the Houston Rockets' vacant head-coaching position, and a group of fans showed up at the Toyota Center to voice their support for Smith. The fans brought signs and chanted, "We want Kenny!"
From Fox 26's Mark Berman:
Fans supporting former #Rockets guard Kenny Smith (@TheJetOnTNT) to be the Rockets next coach rally at Toyota Center pic.twitter.com/k6S3KS1qt9— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) May 13, 2016
Smith, 51, has never coached, but he is beloved in Houston because he played for the Rockets from 1990 to 1996, starting at point guard as they won their back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995. He told Fox 26 that his interview with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey on Tuesday lasted 2 1/2 to three hours and was a "great meeting."
"I think the interview, all of that process, it goes well," Smith said. "They have a clear vision of what they want to do. I have a clear vision of what I'd like to do. Sometimes you meet in the middle. Sometimes it doesn't meet at all, but it was something that we both had to explore, and still exploring.
"It was great reuniting with Les. It's been a long-time, 24-year friendship. It was great to relive the Clutch City memories. Les is a championship owner."
Smith said Alexander and Morey did not give him a timeline on when they would like to hire their coach, but he believes they are doing a "great job" of taking care of their due diligence.
"Right now we're just staying in contact with each other," Smith said. "Then we'll see what happens from there.
"I'm a Rocket at heart. This just a step. I've always been interested at some point in coaching. So I'm here. We're going to see."
Houston assistant coach Chris Finch, Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell, Sixers assistant coach Mike D'Antoni, former Cavaliers coach David Blatt, former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek have also reportedly interviewed for the job. The Racine Journal Times' Gery Woelfel reported Friday that the Rockets' search is "heading to the finishing line" and they are expected to make a hire before the end of next week, with ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy perhaps being the frontrunner.
After watching Smith on Inside the NBA for all these years, it's kind of weird just picturing him on the sidelines. Just 15 months ago, he sat next to Charles Barkley and laughed as Barkley ripped Morey and said that executives who talk about analytics "ain't never played the game and they never got the girls in high school and they just want to get in the game." Now, Smith could be working for Morey in Houston? The NBA is a crazy league.