He wanted to go to Kansas but KU overlooked him. In a draft where Kwame Brown is the “best” player, he goes 40th, behind Jerryl Sasser — who starred for Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez — and former Trojan great Jeff Trepagnier, who blew him away 8-to-1 in the important stat: leagues played in.
Jason Kidd and Derek Fisher go directly from player to head coach but he has to pay his dues as a D-League assistant. In his final weeks, the names Jay Wright, Mike D’Antoni, Luke Walton and favorite “Sun” Dan Majerle are all linked to the job he has.
It’s not ironic. Wednesday night was completely the norm. Kobe goes for 60 as a farewell while Golden State reaches 73 wins, overshadowing his last game as interim coach. The “he” is Earl Watson.
Watson witnessed a school shooting at his elementary cafeteria but opened up a pre-school. Rejected by the Kansas coaching staff, Watson says it was a positive “re-direction” when he went to UCLA, where he learned basketball and life from the master John Wooden. No NBA team ever wanted him for longer than three years but he was always wanted, playing for seven different franchises. Watson is a great person and an excellent motivator, two qualities that translate into a grand total of about four wins out of 82 in the NBA.
There’s so much more to being a successful NBA head coach. Hiring Tom Thibodeau or Luke Walton brings instantaneous credit within NBA circles since each of them is on the short-list of every other NBA team. Convincing Dan Majerle or Mike D’Antoni to come home totally wins the press conference and promotes healing between Robert Sarver and a frustrated fan base (although I don’t see a scenario where Sarver convinces Majerle to take the job).
In the 10 years Doug & Wolf has been on-the-air, a franchise that drips with tradition has had five general managers (Mike D’Antoni, Steve Kerr, a six-week vacuum filed by Robert Sarver when the Suns replaced Amare Stoudemire with five different small forwards, Lance Blanks and Ryan McDonough) to go along with their six head coaches (Mike D’Antoni, Terry Porter, Alvin Gentry, Lindsey Hunter, Jeff Hornacek and Earl Watson). Does stability ever trump resume?
Meeting Earl Watson leaves an impression. Getting to know Earl Watson is life-altering. Easy to say that’s over-the-top, unless you get the chance to get to know him. Now the Suns know him. They probably never expected Watson to be a candidate for the full-time position. They might have overlooked the effect he would have on the locker room.
Every time Earl Watson has been overlooked, he has come back stronger and more successful in his new place. Earl Watson might have earned his last win as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, but it won’t be his last win as an NBA head coach.
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