NBA Coaches Gone Wild
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Hell hath no fury like an NBA coach pissed.
Maybe it's the constant stress of a game that never lets up unless there's a foul. After all, an NFL coach has 40 seconds after each play to regroup. An MLB manager spends more time chewing tobacco and waiting each game than he does managing. By comparison, NBA coaches are up against it for most of their 48 minutes.
Maybe it's the ego management. The NFL has 11 guys on the field at once; the MLB (except for when a team is at bat) has nine. Just five guys playing at any one time means NBA coaching mistakes are magnified.
Maybe it's the fact that there's nowhere to hide. MLB managers have a dugout; NFL coaches can get lost in a sea of humanity on the crowded sidelines. NBA coaches are front and center, and right in the line of fire of television cameras itching for some drama to close in on.
Or maybe it's none of those. Maybe pro basketball just attracts guys who make Adam Sandler in Anger Management look like Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music.
Whatever it is, the natty cats in the suits and wingtips are theoretically supposed to be role models for the sweaty dudes in the jerseys and hightops. So how come the former often seem more ready to throw down than the latter?
Anger as a category has many different levels. Let's start with annoyance, as Avery Johnson in the 2006 FInals doesn't like the question a reporter asks him.
Anger can metastasize into icy disassociation, like Doug Collins exhibits here after a flat loss to the Orlando Magic.
Behind closed doors, Collins can be much less composed. Allan Houston left Collins' Detroit Pistons for the New York Knicks back in 1996. In his first game back to Detroit, the Pistons prevailed. Collins stalked into the joyous Detroit locker room and stunned his players by viciously declaring, "As far as I'm concerned, Allan Houston can rot in hell."
Which brings us to flat-out rage. The Seattle SuperSonics were in the midst of their last season, and it wasn't a pretty one. P.J. Carlesimo here reflects that as he spits nails at Wally Szerbiak for jacking up a silly three. If you're a lip-reader: for God's sake, cover your eyes.
What I like about Doc Rivers is that he cools down fast. Watch him snap at a reporter, and then you can palpably feel when the anger leaves him. By the end, he's laughing and joking with the guy:
Mike D'Antoni, who has a shorter fuse than TNT lit by Wile E. Coyote, unloads on a ref. If you enjoy seeing dignified-looking men cursing like construction workers, watch carefully at 00:13.
How Phil Jackson got a reputation for being a modern-day Buddha escapes me. If he wasn't blaming or whining, he was attacking, as he does here to D'Antoni for talking to a referee. The announcer credits Jackson for saying, "Sit down." I think you can see he says just a wee bit more:
That's mild anger for Jackson. Here he actually hits Pau Gasol in the chest:
Longtime San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's anger is usually passive-aggressive. But he has been known to lose it in the more classical fashion, both at players (here it's Tiago Splitter)…
…and at referees—here his rage carries him practically to the free-throw line before he's kicked:
Former Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown was right about the refs missing this call. But he was dead wrong in the way he went about protesting. This looks perilously close to an episode of Parking Wars:
Rick Carlisle always seems calm, cool and collected. Maybe that's why his booting of this basketball into the stands isn't a full-out punt. It's more like kicking a stone down the street.
But it still got him tossed:
Carlisle might be upset because as his hair continues to vanish, so does his second income as a Jim Carrey impersonator.
Joakim Noah's basket got waved off on an offensive goaltending call, and apparently in honor of St. Patrick's Day, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau reacts as if he's an IRA freedom fighter circa 1990.
Even in the reduced-pressure atmosphere of the D-League, coaches lose it. Here Eric Musselman and Kevin Young look for all the world like they just heard the bell ring for a prizefight to start. Apparently the D-League is a Bizarro NBA, because here, a player breaks up the would-be melee.
At the risk of incurring all of these gentlemen's considerable collective wrath: Remember, it's just a game.
Which, by the way, is why you'll never catch me playing Parcheesi with any of you psychos.
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