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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not a good fit

One of the great mistakes in the long decline of the Portland Trailblazers (now being reversed) was thinking that P.J. Carlesimo would make it as an NBA head coach. With his latest firing, it's pretty clear that he's just not cut out for the gig.

I remember the first time I saw P.J. on TV. He was coaching Seton Hall University's men's team. Within minutes of my starting to watch the game, he launched into a public tirade along the sidelines, completely embarrassing one of his own players, who had done something that P.J. didn't like. The whole Bobby Knight-Bob Hurley tough love thing.

But guess what? Carlesimo is no Bobby Knight, nor a Bob Hurley. He's just P.J. Carlesimo. Which is why no team he's been the head coach of in the professional ranks has ever really played for him. His place in history will probably be as the coach who so enraged one of his less stable pro players that the player actually tried to strangle him during a practice. There's no way the player should have done that, of course, but the fact that it happened was a pretty clear indication that P.J. just doesn't have the temperament to lead an NBA team. Indeed, I don't think even top-notch college players would take what he dishes out any more.

Right after the Blazers made Carlesimo their head coach in 1994, they named Bob Whitsitt as their general manager. It has taken until this year for the team to recover.

Comments (6)


PJ was the wrong guy in Portland. He held his first fall camp in high-elevation Colorado Springs and alienated Rod Strickland, a heavy smoker, by ridiculing him for not completing a two-mile run on the first day of camp. His next gig in Oakland was ruined when Latrelle Sprewell, a Rod Strickland friend, grabbed him by the neck. Luckily a larger-than-average coach separated them.

I think PJ redeemed himself during several years as an assistant coach with Popovich in San Antonio.

I doubt if anyone could have been successful in the Seattle-OK City situation.

PJ sure has added weight the last couple years.

I think PJ redeemed himself during several years as an assistant coach with Popovich in San Antonio.

Redeemed himself? Not as an NBA head coach. As a very good assistant coach, perhaps.

PJ is just another one of the getting older, white men who are repeatedly employed by older white men club owners, to try and coach increasingly recalcitrant young black guys how to play multi million dollar basketball.

Mike Dunleavy, Bob Whitsitt et al to the podium please.

Sprewell and Strickland you can write off as head cases (though Rod was a damn fine point guard for a few years). But I remember that Terry Porter, one of the all-time good guys in Blazer history, didn't like playing for PJ.

Thankfully, Porter now is doing a fine job with the Senior Citizen Suns.

Speaking of coaches, McMillan started Greg Oden at center tonight and it almost was a disaster. The Blazers were lucky to squeak this one out. But take a look at the +/- column in the box score. Oden was -22, while Joel Pryzbilla was +23. It's going to be awhile before Oden is the best center on the team, let alone in the league.

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