The NBA has a long history of dramatic and often entertaining feuds between players and coaches. This season has been no different. So far we have had LeBron puppeteering, half of Sacramento emojiing, and even Allen Iverson and Larry Brown have been reviving some of their old stuff. Simply put, if you’re into NBA drama then this is has been a pretty year for you.
I’m always surprised we don’t hear more about player-coach feuds. Statistically speaking a good portion of people hate their boss and I’m sure NBA players are no different. In fact it’s almost as if the professional sports was designed to breed conflict between players and coaches. As if someone said:
“Hey, I wonder what would happen if we took a group of extremely competitive young millionaires and have them work for some old guy that they really have nothing in common with. We’ll put this old ‘coach’ fella in charge of all major basketball decisions even though he is paid a lot less than the players he’s supposed to be managing and is totally way more expendable. Oh and just for kicks – we’ll give him and the players plenty of chances to air their dirty laundry in front of the media.”
As someone that tends to avoid conflict at all costs I can’t help but try to imagine a more frictionless system. A system where players and coaches couldn’t conflict because they would be one in the same - that’s right – we need more player coaches!
It’s not unheard of. The player-coach concept was actually pretty popular in the NBA during the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s as a way to cut team costs with many notable NBA players including Bill Russell, Lenny Wilkens and Bob Cousy all holding the title player-coach at some point in their career. Unfortunately for us this practice fell out of vogue and was eventually prohibited by the NBA in the 80′s as a way to prevent teams from circumventing the salary cap. But just because the NBA has decided to take some of the fun out of the league doesn’t me we have to. Here’s what the NBA would look like if every team had to choose a player coach:
It sucks that we have to fire Coach Budenholzer just as he finishes shining off his brand new coach of the year trophy, especially since the Atlanta Hawks are one of the harder teams to choose a player-coach for. That is until you step back and realize that this is the Atlanta Hawks – the teamiest team of all teams. They literally split the eastern conference player of the month award! The Atlanta Hawks definitely decide to forego a coach entirely and vote on all decisions as a group.
Player Coach: Everyone
The poor man’s version of the Atlanta Hawks. Without any real star players or a grizzled old vet there is no obvious pick. David Lee is the most established NBA player on the roster so I guess it’s gotta be him.
Player Coach: David Lee
Joe Johnson is too quiet. Brook Lopez is too awkward. Process of elimination leaves…
Player Coach: Jarrett Jack
Al Jefferson finally gets a chance to prove he’s not just a good-numbers-on-a-bad-team guy. How awesome would it be if he turns out to be some kind of coaching savant?
Player Coach: Al Jefferson
I hate to say it but I mean he usually wears a suit for half the season anyways right?
Player Coach: Derrick Rose
Enough puppeteering. King James finally gets the chance to become Coach King James and immediately gets full control over all coaching decisions. How good of a coach is he? Time to find out. Just as a warning though, hall of fame players really don’t have the best track record when it comes to coaching.
Player Coach: LeBronJames
If I’m a player I want Dirk to be my coach. I mean just look at this. He’s hilarious and is just out there enjoying the twilight of his career. Dirk might be the first NBA coach to say “let’s just go out there and have some fun” and really mean it.
Player Coach: Dirk Nowitzki
Kenneth Faried – the human energizer bunny – becomes a coach. His coaching style is pretty much what you would expect and consists solely of epic pregame pep talks. He asks his players if they are “pumped” a lot.
Player Coach: Kenneth Faried
I based this decision purely on who on the roster looks the most like a future NBA coach.
Player Coach: Steve Blake
Golden State Warriors
Coach Curry on the bench boy!!! The most likeable guy in the league becomes a head coach. Unfortunately that might means he has to make tough decisions. He decides to hire Harrison Barnes as his assistant coach to deliver all bad news for him.
Player Coach: Stephen Curry
Harden decides that as a coach he should probably sitdown and watch some game tape. He pauses halfway through the first game to ask his assistant coaches “Wait. That’s really what I look like on defence?”
Player Coach: James Harden
As his first act as player coach Paul George decides he will no longer be playing power forward. His second act is to request a trade for a power forward.
Player Coach: Paul George
Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul’s becomes worried that his new position as player-coach will alienate him from his teammates. He begins dressing as Cliff Paul to distinguish when he is in “coach mode” and “player mode”.
Player Coach: Chris Paul
Los Angeles Lakers
The Kobe Bryant dictatorship begins. He asks all of his teammates to refer to him as “his holiness the supreme black mamba” while he only refers to them by their jersey numbers.
Player Coach: Kobe Bryant
Zach Randolph tells his teammates that his new coaching duties mean he will have less time to spend on off the court training sessions. He gives up cardiovascular exercises completely but yet strangely his on the court game does not suffer.
Player Coach: Zach Randolph
The Miami Heat devise a system in which Dwyane Wade is named player-coach but he constantly wears an earpiece that is connected to a microphone that Pat Riley wears. They NBA does not allow him to wear this on the court so Wade and Riley are forced to begin using hand signals instead.
Player Coach: Dwyane Wade
Jason Kidd immediately unretires. On some when he is nights when he is frustrated he even subs out MCW and plays a little. You can often hear him on the court saying “See! Is it that hard to do this?”
Player Coach: Jason Kidd
I mean he’s kind of already doing this but let’s just make it official.
Player Coach: Kevin Garnett
New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis becomes the youngest coach in league history. Team ownership asks him if he would like to take over the GM job as well. “Just take some time to think about it” they say.
Player Coach: Anthony Davis
New York Knicks
Melo get’s every scorer’s dream – the ability to call plays for himself. His teammates find it frustrating that he starts every game with 8 straight isolation plays for himself.
Player Coach: Carmelo Anthony
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant calls a play for Russell Westbrook to take a game winning shot and he misses. The basketball internet explodes with scorching takes.
Player Coach: Kevin Durant
With an extremely young team overall, the Orlando Magic are one of the toughest teams to pick a player-coach for. In the end I decided to go with the player with the oldest sounding name – Elfrid Payton. In all seriousness, no one born after 1945 should be named Elfrid.
Player Coach: Elfrid Payton
The other – currently less successful looking - extremely young team in the East. Sam Hinkie asks the league if he can name his future superstar draft pick as player-coach. Adam Silver is not sure how to respond.
Player Coach: Undetermined
One game after he is named player-coach Tyson Chandler gets “injured”. The Suns are beginning to think that he is faking it just to show off his outfits on the sideline.
Player Coach: Tyson Chandler
Long time NBA veteran Chris Kaman is named player-coach. He tries way too hard to relate to Portland’s younger players. They begin calling him “old man Kaman” behind his back.
Player Coach: Chris Kaman
When asked what type of system he expects to implement Coach Gay is brutally honest. “I haven’t decided yet. I’ve really been spending most of my time on more important things – namely trying to prevent DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo from killing each other”. He begins to show signs of rapid aging as the season progresses and immediately retires after the season is over.
Player Coach: Rudy Gay
San Antonio Spurs
Coach Duncan has a nice ring to it right? Duncan continues many of Coach Pop’s traditions such as trolling during every NBA interview and more importantly winning.
Player Coach: Tim Duncan
The Raptors decide their best option is to give Drake a roster spot so that he can be their global ambassador and coach. Toronto fans become outraged when he wears the opposing team’s jersey on his way in to the stadium before the game.
Player Coach: Aubrey Graham
The Utah Jazz name Gordon Hayward as player-coach. Midway through the season it is determined that Hayward is in fact the long-lost son of Jerry Sloan thus making his hiring even more of a perfect fit.
Player Coach: Gordon Hayward
John Wall’s first act as head coach is to change all of the play signals. apparently the old ones weren’t bool enough.
Player Coach: John Wall