Phil Jackson in a Panama hat

Sounds like a Photoshop opportunity to me. Too bad I'm feeling lazy.

Sam Smith: Thanks to him, Grizzlies uncaged | Chicago Tribune Before he was Phil Jackson, he was kicking around the minor leagues of basketball, Albany and Puerto Rico, and he was an assistant on the Bulls' staff who blew his first chance at a job with the team when he showed up for the interview in a big Panama hat with a macaw feather sticking out.

and I've blathered for years about up-tempo basketball being so much more enjoyable to watch than sluggish, isolation basketball that was the style for several years. Seems like more and more teams are figuring out basketball is meant to involve constant motion, fast breaks, and firing up shots before the 24 second shot clock ticks down to 3. Kudos to Memphis' new coach for opening the throttle too.

...So why can't Tony Barone be the next great coach in the NBA? These guys have got to come from somewhere.

“It's a thrill, what an unbelievable dream come true,” says Barone, the Chicago guy, a former local high school coach who grew up near Buckingham and Broadway on the North Side and attended Mt. Carmel grammar school in the city and St. George High School in Evanston.

When Barone is here Saturday with the Grizzlies to play the Bulls, he brings with him, suddenly, one of the most surprising and entertaining teams in the NBA. After discarding Fratello's deliberate pace, the run-and-gun, high-scoring, quick-shooting Grizzlies are averaging 117.7 points per game and playing .500 ball since Barone took over.

“We have not had one shot at the end of the shot clock other than at the end of the quarter for a last shot,” Barone says proudly. “We push on made and missed shots and take the first available shot. It's a freedom-oriented approach.

”We have not taken bad shots, we've taken long shots,“ Barone explains. ”We've impressed on our guys, a good shot is not necessarily an open shot. It's a shot you're comfortable with. … We try to give these guys the opportunity to play basketball. It seems to me as you move up the ladder from high school to college to the NBA, the game becomes more a players' game.“

That was clear in Barone's first game, a 110-104 victory over Toronto in which the Raptors cut a 24-point deficit to one. At that point, the players stopped and looked to Barone for a timeout.

”I said, 'Don't look over at me. Play the game,'“ he recalls.

and Sam Smith is right: somebody should take a chance on this guy.

When the Grizzlies scored a 2006-07 regulation-game high 144 points under Barone, the players appeared tired late in the game.

”So I asked them, 'OK, would you like for me to start calling plays?'“ Barone says. ”They said, 'No.' So I said, 'OK, then start running again.' There's no magic in coaching.“

Someone hire this guy.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 13, 2007 10:15 PM.

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