Thoughts on Steve Clifford
It’s possible that nobody knows more about basketball than Mike Dunlap. But the reason he was only the Charlotte Bobcats head coach for one season is because he had little in the way of social skills. He could teach the game and draw up plays, but had almost no ability to relate to his players.
On Sunday night the Bobcats, or Charlotte Hornets, hired Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford to be their next coach. He too is very passionate about teaching the game, and is known as defensive mastermind.
The big difference between Clifford and Dunlap appears to be player support. I couldn’t find a single player publicly support Dunlap before or after his firing in late April. Privately several players were pleased he was moving on.
In contrast twitter was very active with Clifford’s former high school, college, and NBA players excited about his first head coaching job. Former Magic players JJ Redick and Hedo Turkoglu praised the hire, while Clifford’s former mentor, Stan Van Gundy, said he “had no weaknesses. He will have his team prepared every night.” And well respected Yahoo! NBA reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski, called it a “home run hire.”
Personally I have no idea if Clifford will make it as the next Bobcats/Hornets coach. Like Dunlap, he strikes me as a basketball junkie. But clearly, the big difference is the way he has connected with those he’s coached. That must continue in Charlotte with the biggest chance he’s ever received.