Actually what coaches can learn from all high school teachers, not just English teachers, but since that was what I did for 21 years after I retired from the NBA, I had to give English teachers a little love in the title. So, what can coaches learn from folks who reside in the educational trenches? Very specifically: never try to be friends with your students (read: players on your team). Coaches who try to be their players' best buddy are doomed to failure. It's extremely difficult for a coach to discipline a player if that player is a friend. Parents often learn this lesson much too late. A player who will not accept discipline from a coach does not respect that coach. Period. End of story.
Why am I blogging about this? I worry that Keith Smart, the coach of the Sacramento Kings, a really nice guy, is trying to be DeMarcus Cousins' best buddy. The recent comments Coach Smart made in the Sacramento Bee following Cousins' stupid confrontation with Sean Elliot, the color commentator of the San Antonio Spurs (by the way, one hell of an NBA star when Cousins was a baby) sound just a bit too wishy-washy to me, too apologetic, too psychological. What was all that stuff about treating Cousins like he treats his 16 year old son? What? Like he loves Cousins like his son? Cousins is not his son, and he is NOT 16 years old. He's an adult. He's a pro. His absence possibly cost the Kings a win over the Lakers. And he's suspended for another game, probably another King loss without him.
I played in the NBA for ten years and been an observer of the league all my life. There are players who never grow up. They play developmentally-arrested; they leave the league with arrested personalities. It looks like Marcus is headed in that direction. Coach Smart could do the young man a big favor by making him face up to his childish behavior. The danger, of course, is that Cousins will throw another tantrum and force the Kings to fire Smart. (As he did Paul Westphal) And, as sad as it may seem, the Kings will do it, since there is no doubt that Cousins is a rare talent. But I don't believe Coach Smart will confront the kid. I'm afraid he's going to continue to try to finesse Cousins. A very bad idea.
This is not a poem but a beginning of a song from one of my favorite bands Houston Jones. I dedicate it to DeMarcus Cousins and all young people who have a way to go before they grow up.
There is no easy life
There's only the long way around.
From the edge of the world
To the heart of a three crow town.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.