Commentary: How about that NBA?

By RON COLBERT  |  June 17, 2003 at 11:43 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) -- What is going on in the bizarre world of NBA coaches?

Let's see - Paul Silas gets dumped by New Orleans after leading the Hornets to playoff appearances each of the last five years while in two cities, the second being Charlotte, where the fans and city officials ran the owner, George Shinn, out of town.

Silas get the job at Cleveland, and is replaced in New Orleans by a man, Tim Floyd, who has a career pro record of 49-190 while with the Chicago Bulls.

We have Jeff Van Gundy reportedly offered as much as $35 million over five years to coach the woeful Washington Wizards, who don't have an operations chief or a coach, and their lame duck general manager is going to take a leave of absence after the upcoming draft.

Van Gundy takes the job in Houston after pondering the Wizards' offer. For what? He could only have been thinking about money because what coach in his right mind would pass on the opportunity to coach a 7-5 guy like Yao Ming, who was pried away from the Chinese national team, even if he is only unlimited potential.

The Wizards don't even have that.

We have Larry Brown leaving Philadelphia, courted by the Wizards, then filling the unexpected vacancy at Detroit just 48 hours after the surprising ouster of Rick Carlisle, who led the Pistons to back-to-back 50 win seasons.

There still is no coach in Toronto or Philadelphia, and any day now, there could be a vacancy with the Los Angeles Clippers, where Dennis Johnson has an interim tag.

Judging from this malarkey, the Wizards are desperate. Heaven only knows who will be dumb enough to coach the team that fired Michael Jordan and is run by a man, Abe Pollin, who long since should have sold a team that he is determined to run like an outdated mom and pop operation.

Lucky for him he used Jordan as so much Kleenex. If the rumor is true that Jordan was offered $10 million on his way out the door, Pollin might indeed have the money. The presence of Jordan helped the Wizards sell out the MCI Center for two years in a row. As bad as the team and its management has been since Richard Nixon was president, believe me, that would not have happened without Jordan's presence, even if he was a jerk.

Knowing him, I highly doubt he would have left $10 million on the table. This is a low blow, but even with all his riches, it seems unlikely he would leave that kind of bank on the table. It was pocket money for his alleged gambling habit.

Also, who would want to coach a team that showed no respect to either Jordan or Doug Collins, who had an uneasy relationship with him anyway? How in the world could a team of nobodies, malcontents and no talents think they were above playing for and with a man with six championship rings, regardless of his demeanor?

What will Silas do, coaching a "boy" for all intent and purposes, like 18-year-old LeBron James, who just graduated from high school and will be making more money than he earns before the month is over? With the funds he is going to make he'll be coaching the Cavaliers before winter because, if team executives get even a whiff of bad blood, guess who's going to be shown the door?

Heck, season ticket sales for next season already have gone through the roof, and we're talking about a team that can't draw its name, much less fans.

And we haven't yet delved into the crap in Philly, which has malcontent Allen Iverson. John Thompson, his college coach who now has a radio talk show, is the only person who could keep this guy's head on straight, and even that was a struggle, quiet as it's kept.

Things are so bad that the names of Mike Fratello and Mike Dunleavy have been floated along the rumor mill, and we haven't discussed that awful San Antonio-New Jersey title matchup. All I can say is Commissioner David Stern will need an antacid before this mess gets cleaned up. Maybe two or three. At this rate, he'll need them IF anybody has any money left.

By the way, congrats to San Antonio for winning the NBA title and Spurs' center David Robinson for going out a winner. It's too bad that this will be the least watched title series in history.

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