SALT LAKE CITY — There’s a scene in “Seinfeld” where George Costanza has quit his job.
“So what are you going to do?” Jerry says.
“I like sports,” says George. “I could do something in sports.”
Jerry: “Uh-huh. Uh-huh. In what capacity?”
George: “You know, like the general manager of a baseball team, or something.”
Costanza also proposes being an announcer, to which Jerry replies, “Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people that are, you know, in broadcasting.”
“Well,” George glumly concedes, “that’s really not fair.”
Cheer up, George.
Nowadays you’d have a shot.
I bring this up because this year, in particular, there are people being hired or considered as NBA coaches who, like Costanza, are a little short on resume power. Welcome to the exciting new world of job hunting. No boots on the ground experience? Don’t worry. You have the same amount of coaching experience as Steve Kerr, the new boss of the Golden State Warriors. John Stockton keeps being tied to the Jazz’s coaching vacancy, even though he has never coached beyond his kids’ youth teams.
Now one of the hot names in the NBA coaching carousel is ex-Jazz guard Derek Fisher, who is still playing. Earl Watson, another former Jazz guard with no coaching experience, says he’s interested in replacing Tyrone Corbin.
I’m not saying they couldn’t be fine coaches. But who hasn’t been told in a job interview, “Sorry, but you just don’t have the right experience”? Nowadays you can tell them you don’t need any if you have Wikipedia.
Coaching certainly isn’t the only profession where training is optional. John Hollinger was a columnist at ESPN until his analytics method landed him a spot as vice president of basketball operations with the Memphis Grizzlies. Rapper Jay-Z declared himself an agent and now runs a sports agency that includes Kevin Durant, Robinson Cano, C.C. Sabathia and Victor Cruz. Among Z’s qualifications: he told Vanity Fair he was once a drug dealer, which taught him how to run a budget.
I once had a tooth filled, which taught me how to be a dentist.
In honesty, inexperience has produced both failures and successes. Untested Magic Johnson coached just 16 games before giving up on the Lakers, but Larry Bird lasted three years and won 69 percent of his games. Danny Ainge went 136-90 with the Phoenix Suns, having been an assistant coach for just eight games. Vinny Del Negro won fewer than half his games with the Clippers and Kiki Vandeweghe went 12-52 in New Jersey, both with no prior experience.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers and former Warriors’ coach Marc Jackson also landed jobs with no coaching background.
Jason Kidd took the Brooklyn Nets to the conference semifinals this year as a rookie coach. But clearly he had some rookie ideas. He was fined $50,000 for intentionally spilling a soda on the court when his team had no timeouts.
"Phil Jackson walks in, he has a resume, Pat Riley walks in, he has a resume, Jason Kidd walks in, he has a resume as a player but not as a coach," Nets general manager Billy King told USA Today. "But he communicated what he was trying to do, and they trust him."
There’s no denying Stockton and other ex-players understand the game and thus could thrive as coaches. It’s just that in the past, people had to pay specific dues to get specific jobs.
Got a portfolio? Pfffft! That’s for losers.12 comments on this story
I figure my career is just starting. I plan to buy some Benadryl, after which I’ll apply for a job at the pharmacy. Then I want to become an airline pilot because I’ve flown a lot of miles in coach and a few times in first class.
My advice for everyone is to go for it, whatever your dream. You can even apply for the Jazz coaching position. Show them your passion, understanding and analytics.
Just don’t show them your resume.
They might not want to see it, anyway.
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