So my friend Brian posed this question to me several years ago:
"Is an NBA coach basically a glorified babysitter?"
At the time, I was inclined to think so. After going to two Toronto Raptors games in December, and watching them lose their seventh game in a row last night, I'm not so sure.
It is quite possible that the coach of a talented, winning team is more of a babysitter than anything. It is the ability to turn around a losing team that is the mark of a skilled coach. It is his job to motivate his troops to become greater than the sum of their parts, to prepare them by drilling them on situational plays until the plays will be performed automatically, and to determine the appropriate time to make player substitutions so that his team can take advantage of mismatches and players can get into the flow of the game.
Granted, the Raptors have been ravaged by injuries to its three best players as well as key reserves, but all season Raptor players have looked unmotivated, unprepared, and out of sync. Between being unsure of which play to run in close-game situations to a multitude of shot-clock violations to questionable subsitution patterns, the Raptors have looked at times like a highschool franchise.
Their coach, Lenny Wilkens, is both the winningest and losingest coach in NBA history--a testament to his longevity more than anything. His post-game platitudes are rife with excuses: "Every night is a lesson. In the second quarter, we just ran out of gas, our bench wasn't as productive as it has been." No piercing insight here.
I am not one to take food off a man's table, but when I have a vested interest, it's my enjoyment and dollars that are being compromised. The Raptors stand at 8-23, and their record is on pace to finish with one more win than in their inaugural 21-61 season of 1995-96. Which is why I have purchased firelennywilkens.com.
It's time for him to go.