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SBM Sports: The Tumultuous Relationships Between Players & Coaches

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We can all agree on a few things: work sucks, none us are paid enough, and 99% of bosses are idiots. It turns out that last one is true in the NBA as well; at least for Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and Andrew Bynum. These three players have all had public run-ins with their coaches this season. Thankfully, I’m here to referee these spats and judge them on a few factors: pure entertainment (how interested was Twitter?), legitimacy (did the player have a point?), and outcome (was the result worth the argument?).

3. Carmelo Anthony vs. Mike D’Antoni

Entertainment: This feud has been fun to watch because of the extreme peaks and valleys. Remember the 8-15 start? Linsanity? Melo’s return and subsequent losses? All of these culminated in D’Antoni’s sudden resigning. The Knicks have been fascinating this season; inspiring trending topics, puns galore, and serious discussions about race.

Legitimacy: The Knicks had problems heading into this season. The team’s best player and head coach had very different offensive philosophies. Predictably, the Knicks struggled on offense and their record reflected it (despite an underrated defense). Even with their resurgence during Linsanity (against horrible competition), the problems persisted when Melo returned.

In this case, I side with Melo. D’Antoni is a great coach, but not the right one for this team as it’s constructed today.

Outcome: The Knicks have played better under interim coach Mike Woodson. This includes a big win against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Perhaps part of this is a newfound commitment since D’Antoni’s departure. Anthony intimated this saying, “I think in the last three games (under Woodson), my focus was to have an energy that I haven’t had so far this season, especially on the defensive end.” Funny timing, Melo. Though if the result is wins, Knick fans won’t mind.

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2. Andrew Bynum vs. Mike Brown

Entertainment: Bynum has been accused of immaturity in the past, but he’s outdone himself here. It started with the three pointers. He was benched after shooting one in a close game. Next, he joked about it on the sidelines. THEN he refused to join the team huddles during time outs.

Surely Bynum was apologetic afterward, right? Here’s what he had to say for himself:

“I don’t know what was bench-worthy about the shot, to be honest with you. I made one (Sunday), and I wanted to make another one. That’s it…I guess ‘Don’t take threes’ is the message, but I’m going to take another one and I’m going to take some more, so I just hope it’s not the same result. Hopefully, I make it.”

“LOL!” – Joe Sargent

Since this incident, Bynum skipped a meeting with team General Manager, Mitch Kupchak, to discuss these issues and been fined by the team. Hopefully he continues to be defiant, if only to entertain us.

Legitimacy: Brown has a reputation for lacking tactical in-game coaching skills. That said, he has led the Lakers to the third best record in the Western Conference. Bynum could have picked a better time to act out against his coach. I side with Brown.

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Outcome: Since the infamous three pointer, the Lakers are 5-3. This has more to do with the potentially serious injury keeping Kobe Bryant from playing than Bynum being childish. The Lakers can do well in the Playoffs with a petulant Bynum, not with a hobbled Kobe.

1.    Dwight Howard vs. Stan Van Gundy

Entertainment: This is easily the most entertaining player/coach feud we will have in a decade. After months of speculation, Van Gundy finally confirmed the widely believed rumor that Howard wanted him fired. He did so at a pregame shootaround, and the result is a candidate for the YouTube Hall of Fame:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y08gvGpGCwA”>

This is a video so awkward and hilarious it deserves a breakdown.

0:03 – Stan Van Gundy…or Ron Jeremy, not sure, confirms the rumor. Dwight wants him out. Sips Diet Pepsi.

0:38 – SVG/RJ “If they want to fire me at 12:05, I’ll go home and find something to do. I’ll have a good day. I’m not worried about that at all.” Swag.

2:49 – The hug. Dwight comes in from off screen having no idea that his coach has called him out.

3:07 – SVG/RJ makes his escape. This is like farting in an elevator right before the door opens. Leave that timebomb for the next man to deal with.

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3:27 – The stutter. It’s the moment Dwight realizes the reporters know. We’ve all been there, Dwight. Time to admit it or stick with your lie.

3:33 – Dwight chooses to stick with his lie. Seems very satisfied with himself at 3:40 too

Dwight spends the last minute deflecting questions and “focusing on what’s ahead.” Blah.

Legitimacy: As far as I can tell, SVG/RJ has done a great job with the Magic. The second best player he’s ever coached is…Jameer Nelson? Averaging 55 wins a year and taking those teams to the Finals tells me SVG/RJ can coach. Dwight has no legs to stand on here. He should be mad at the General Manager.

Outcome: Although it’s only been a few days, it’s clear that this has had a negative impact on the team’s play. The Magic were destroyed the night of The Interview by the Knicks, and the NBA on TNT crew did a great job breaking down the reasons why. This has caused a rift that won’t be fixed this late in the season.

Where do you stand on these NBA dramas? Should players have the power to have their coaches fired? How do we know when the players cross the line?

Comment(16)

  1. Bynum needs to chill out. He could have been traded for the best center in the league, and the Lakers stuck with him.

  2. Bynum…I mean, I don't know what's going through dude's head…now that he has a couple of chips maybe he feels he should have more leash then what he thinks he has..? It's one thing to think these things, but to actually say them outloud, to the media no less, is beyhond dumb.

    Bottom line, Lakers are 3rd in the west under a new coach and a new system with virtually no bench and the majority of the year getting absolutely NOTHING form the 1 and 3 spots on the floor (now that Sessions is there that has changed *awkwardly looks at Metta World Peace*). Brown has featured Bynum a lot more and is averaging career highs of 18ppg and 12rpg and made his first all-star team. As long as Bynum keeps in line and doesn't get ejected from anymore games he'll be fine.

    1. Agreed. I remember reading that the owner's son (who recently took over operations of the Lakers) has called Bynum his favorite player and basically deemed him untradeable.

      If so, it seems Bynum is taking full advantage. Pretty childish and disappointing, but like you said, he's got his rings. You can't really argue with the results.

      1. Right, of course not…it's his first season with the ball club. Brown hasn't won any championships (yet, hopefully) as a head coach (although he has a couple as an assistant with the Spurs) and hasn't proven anything yet. Coming from Phil Jackson and knowing where you have been with him then any young coach would be difficult to trust until you get results. And in L.A. results = rings.

        Now in no way am I comparing or saying Brown is Jackson….but do you really think Michael Jordan initially trusted Phil Jackson that first year talking all that Zen stuff, handing out book reading assignments and meditating? Lol! Shoot…they got that first ring and that's all the validation that was needed. Bottomline, Brown needs to earn that trust….but Bynum needs to show respect, too.

        1. I feel like the different is that when Phil came to Chicago he didn't really have a lot of assignments. Jordan didn't want to meditate, so he didn't. Phil managed his players better. Mike does way too much micro-managing. Watch a game and peep how many times Kobe or Gasol waves off a Mike Brown play.

  3. With regard to Dwight, whom I like, I think media has made it bigger than it is. It's not like players always love their coaches. Not sure if any of you watch European football (soccer, as you like to call it), but the most successful manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, is NOT a very likeable man, nor a very likeable coach. But he's the best coach there ever was. His players have argued with him, thrown stuff at him, done dumb things off-field, but as long as they perform on-field, it's all good. He can manage his team. If Stan can do the same, it doesn't matter if Dwight told someone he wants the guy fired. If he can't, well, then he oughta be fired.

    1. Interesting take re: Sir Alex Ferguson. I've said for a few years I want to learn more about football. I enjoy watching it…just don't always know what I'm seeing, lol.

      I wonder how different the culture in the EPL is compared to the NBA. Seems like the players have much less power in Europe. I think, in general, coaches are more expendable here. We have a few "sacred" coaches, but in general it's a revolving door. I'm sure that's because (in part) there have only been about 8 coaches to win a championship in the last 20 years.

      Are the other, less heralded, coaches in the EPL more expendable? How long do they usually stick around?

  4. im with svg… even tho i rather call him rj now (u wrong for that lol)..dewight is ….a bitch to me. he should indeed be mad at the GM and ppl surrounding him with better talent. SVG/RJ was just had a straight forward 100 percent real nigga moment and i would have been salty about DH trying to get me fired too. Im with coach…lol

  5. Van Gundy is one of the worst playoff coaches of all time. Yes, he went to the Finals… However when he did he made one of the worst coaching decisions of all time. Replacing Rafer Alston with a 75% healthy, rusty from not playing Jameer Nelson. Jameer had been hurt before the playoffs even started, Skip got them through the playoffs, not Jameer. Coaching/Life 101: Dance with who you came with… Took, Skip out IN THE FINALS and then put an injured player in the driver's seat when he hadn't played since before the playoffs began???? The game(s) they won in the Finals: Skip was the starting guard… Van Gundy takes him out, now, the guard that is the reason that your team is in The Finals is off of his rhythm and has an attitude. There was no coming back from that. And the daggers that sealed the coffin for Orlando? Both on Jameer by an aged Derek Fisher…

    Good coach? Maybe. :"Great job"? No…

    1. You can say that about just every coach who hasn't won a chip. That means Mike Brown, Coach Spo, hell even Doc for leaving his starters in the game in Game 7 when they were clearly winded. I don't know if I'd go that far.

    2. Lol, Van Gundy is a pretty good coach and a good playoff coach, also. Bottomline is since Van Gundy has been there the Magic have made an NBA Finals and averaged 55 wins a season and their 2nd best player is….Jameer Nelson??? Lol…That's all I need to know to know he's a good coach, man.

  6. 1) Had the Knicks had a pure PG from the get-go, the team would've been fine. D'Antoni needs a PG with an efficient basketball iq to run the plays he designs. So I think that was the predominant problem w/ the Knicks. You can't coach when you don't have the pieces you need to make your style of coaching work. Yeah, Melo is scoring phenom and relies heavily on ISOs, which they're starting to run more of. But the 1 thing he had in Denver that he didn't (and to some extent, still doesn't have) have in NY was a PG.

    2) Bynum is Bynum. He'll be fine, as long as he doesn't get ejected come playoff time

    3) I lost a lot of respect for Dwight Howard. He was wishy-washy and reactive, instead of proactive. He complained about his teammates publicly and acted surprised that they played more lackadaisical than not. They played 2 games where they scored 56 and 59 points. You can't tell me that's not reflective of their feelings toward him and his back and forth. But more than him and SVG, I blame Otis Smith! He's had opportunities to get/keep some decent talent and he's come up short every time.
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  7. Coaches have been kissing these players rumps since middle school so when they get to the NBA they think it's going to be the same thing, especially if you have players like bynum and howard that didn't experience having a college coach that dont play that shh. The thing between howard and van gundy shouldnt have even gotten out to the media, but loose lips sink ships. The players, like any other employees, have the right to evaluate their boss and management goes on from there. The players cross the line when they act like babies (especially on national television) for getting paid millions of dollars to play basketball. I wish I could pout cuz I'm a millionare.

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