Coaching in the NBA is one of the toughest jobs in the professional sports world. While it is an important part of the team success, the fact is that teams cannot rely on a coach to fix a lot of its issues like other sports. For instance in both collegiate basketball and football, coaching and the system put in place is arguably more important than the level of talent.
This is not to say that many of the top teams are not talented, but there is no doubt Nick Saban, Mike Krzyzewski, Tony Bennett, and Ed Orgeron are the main reason for their team’s continued success, but throughout the history of the NBA, teams have won primarily based on the innate talent of individual players.
Even the best coaches in the league’s history like Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley have always had at least two stars on their team to lead them to championships. It is a tough job and without enough talent, it will be impossible for a coach to succeed in the league.
That’s why it seems so baffling to see the Brooklyn Nets fire their head coach. Kenny Atkinson had a great run with the Brooklyn Nets, as he consistently exceeded expectations. Under his leadership, the Nets have improved season after season.
Do not let his overall record fool you, he is a good coach that clearly knows the game and was able to push the players to their very best. In a year without his best player in Kevin Durant, and with Kyrie Irving injured most of the season, the Nets still hold the 7th seed in the East.
Honestly, I have no idea what the Nets management were expecting from him as this firing came from nowhere and is unfair to a coach that went through the rebuilding process and will now never have a chance to coach two of the biggest stars in the NBA.
While it is unfair, it doesn’t necessarily mean this was a bad move for the Nets. Take the Warriors as the perfect case study. Mark Jackson was the man who initially created the foundation for the Warriors, but could not elevate the team over the hump. Then Steve Kerr became the head coach which ultimately pushed them to become a dynasty.
Consider the situation involving the Philadelphia 76ers. The team has a lot of issues, and while Bret Brown is not a bad coach by any stretch, he has not proven himself. As a good coach, one has to be able to push players to their maximum potential.
With this logic, I understand the reasoning behind trying to get a coach that could get the most out of KD and Kyrie. I am sure that the Nets have someone lined up to replace Atkinson, and it could be a good fit for this new group of players.
The Nets understand that this new team will have a short window to win a championship and it will be the head coach’s responsibility to assemble the talent in the best possible system for them to succeed. While there is no telling whether or not Atkinson could have made this jump, the Nets did not want to conduct this experiment.
The one bright note is that Atkinson will no doubt get another chance to coach in the NBA. The man clearly understands basketball, and he will be an asset to any team looking to revitalize their franchise.