The funny thing about basketball fans is that they often contradict themselves, and that is the cause of their state of dissatisfaction. The hiring of new Indiana Pacers’ head coach Nate Bjorkgren is a perfect example.
A slew of veteran coaches fell short of expectations in the 2019-20 NBA season, and yet, somehow, many of them get to keep their job. Those who lost theirs will be hired by another team soon.
That many coaches keep on landing head coaching jobs despite a lackluster career as well as the lack of promise of brilliance gets fans riled up.
Try someone new, they say. Do not salvage the fading career of a coach just because he was a head coach to many other NBA teams in the past. Allow someone new to come in. And don’t stop anyone who is headed for the exit knowing he has given his best in his best years and all it bought him is knowing for sure he is not made to become a champion coach because of professional qualities or coaching conditions or both. Allow a carousel seat to be vacated and let someone new have that seat.
These are the sentiments of basketball fans tired of watching the same defensive sets and motion plays ran for the sake of having the appearance of coaching a team, although bereft of the deliberate and forceful intention and keenness to win again and again and again until the championship match has been won, mainly because what the coach has is not enough, or that what is left of him is probably trying his best, not to win, but to hold on, for as long as he can, to a full-time job that pays the bills, his skills as a coach now (or even before) lacking, inferior, outdated, and has neither room for improvement nor desire for inventive enterprise and exploration.
It is a fair clamor. Give teams a fighting chance. This is, after all, competitive sports. Consider hiring a coach because of his potential, not because he has years on the job. Experience does not always translate into success.
So why is it that when Bjorkgren—an NBA head coach for the first time —got the job in Indiana, many were unenthused?
I saw/heard/read different comments from alleged basketball fans, the most common of which is this: who is Nate Bjorkgren? The question is not innocent, and oftentimes it comes as a snide comment, said with a derisive snort, spoken with an insulting tone.
I don’t know what is more appalling —the fact that you can Google anyone today and see for yourself who Bjorkgren is, or the fact that many fans have become insufferable, toxic sideline observers who love to oppose for the sake of disagreeing. They find comfort in being vexing creatures, whose first instinct is to be cynical critics of everything.
We all know the phrase “you can’t please everyone.” Now it is worse: people refuse to be, at the very least, satisfied, as if enjoying the quiet of contentment is a sin, and they will do everything to propagate this attitude of consistently disagreeing and being ceaselessly dissatisfied, to the point that they stop making sense anymore. They don’t like it if a team hires a veteran coach for the simple reason that he is in the NBA for too long, but if they hire a first-time NBA coach, they are skeptical, preaching about how the team will crash and burn, convinced with the confidence a soothsayer can muster.
For me, I believe in meritocracy. Hire a head coach who has proven himself worthy of another chance, and if there is no one, then hire a new head coach who has proven himself or herself worthy of a first chance. Give coaches enough time to win. Give him space he could use so that he can make his players see for themselves their potential as a team as well as their weaknesses and flaws and how they can end up as their worst version of themselves.
If hiring a coach is a business move, then make it matter to the business of winning.
There is a big difference between merely filling in a vacancy and fulfilling the mission to be great.