Wednesday, March 30, 2005

What the Flip?

Why would you want Flip Saunders to coach your team? And let's leave Phil Jackson's name out of consideration for all jobs, too. Let the man retire. Hasn't he done enough? Not to mention he probably realizes that he'll never have Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen together again or Shaquille O'Neal & Kobe Bryant together again. So what's the next best combo in the league that's available? LeBron & Ilgauskas? Or KG & whoever else? It's not worth the headaches and I'd be surprised if he comes back.

OK - back to Flip Saunders. I'm trying to figure out why so many teams, especially the Cleveland Cavaliers, seem to be SO interested in Flip Saunders? Flip had a pretty good run with the T'Wolves when he took over early in the 1996 season until last year. I can't argue that the guy won .563 of his games (386-300) in the regular season during that time. Let's face it, he took the helm of a terrible franchise that was 132-380 before he took over 20 games into the '96 season.

But my problem with the Flipster is that his playoff record is AWFUL - 17-30 which includes 10-8 during last year's playoffs. That's just flat out terrible. In the early runs to the playoffs he had a budding superstar in Kevin Garnett and other All-Stars in Stephon Marbury and Tom Gugliotta and other key players like Anthony Peeler, Chauncey Billips (yes, you forgot). In the later years, the T'Wolves added shooters like Wally Szczerbiak and Fred Hoiberg while acquiring Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell.

This season they just flat-out tanked. They were miserable and Saunders was fired. Minnesota might fight to get the 8th seed, but even if they do, they'll do their usual dance and get bounced from the playoffs in the first round for the eighth time in nine seasons.

If I'm a team looking for a coach, it isn't Flip Saunders - do you want to drive the same road that's been traveled on for years and go nowhere or would you rather go get a guy who might spring some life into your team ... a guy like Maurice Cheeks. Mo Cheeks knows how to win; he was a winner as both a player and a coach. A four-time NBA All-Star as a player, he sported a 140-106 coaching record when he headed Portland for three seasons and played the point for the 76ers when Dr. J, Moses Malone and company won the 1983 NBA title and played in two other Finals. That's my guy ... go get him and you'll be happy that you did.

In other NBA news, the 37-year-old Detroit man who threw a chair into the tunnel area in the Palace at Auburn Hills Arena during the Pistons-Pacers brawl in mid-November pleaded no contest. They've got him on tape and I'm sure he realizes that it was a stupid thing to do. This guy wasn't in any harm, but he was probably drunk and decided to exact some revenge on the Indiana players that he could see trying to leave the arena.

This just brings me back to that whole situation and the ramifications that followed. Ron Artest acted like a dope by running into the stands after an even bigger idiot threw a cup of liquid on him. Then fellow Pacers teammate Stephen Jackson, in my mind, acted like the biggest jerk of them all by running in and throwing wild punches at everything that moved that wasn't wearing a Pacers uniform.

I've said for months that I don't agree with Commissioner David Stern's suspension of Artest for the rest of the season. I would've given him a 50-game suspension. I would've suspended Jackson for more than he got and more than what Artest was levied. Commissioner Schmidt would've suspended Jackson for 55 games so that the rest of the league knew that if you follow somebody into a fight and they're not being attacked, your first reaction should be to restrain.

Lastly, I love seeing that look on Kobe Bryant's face - the look of "Oh no, what did I do here?"


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