A Long, Winding Road: Tim Floyd's Coaching Career

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A Long, Winding Road: Tim Floyd's Coaching Career
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Tim Floyd is a winner as a college basketball coach. 

But he couldn't find a good fit in the NBA, where he replaced Phil Jackson, coaching the Chicago Bulls after The Last Dance. 

He won 13 games in his first lockout-shortened season. He won was 17-65 and 15-67 in his only two full NBA seasons. 

After four wins in his first 25 games in the fourth season, he resigned with a 49-190 record.

In one season with the New Orleans Hornets, Floyd finished 41-41.

The Hornets were still in the Eastern Conference at that point so with that stellar record they made the playoffs. The Hornets lost in seven games to the Miami Heat.

After never posting a winning record in four-plus NBA regular seasons and one NBA postseason, even Floyd admitted he wasn't very good at coaching in the NBA.

As a college basketball coach though, Floyd won plenty of games. 

He began as an assistant under Hall of Fame coach and legend Don Haskins at UTEP. 

Floyd became a head coach at Idaho and then moved on to coach at New Orleans. 

He won conference tournament championships in the Big-8 and Pac-10. 

He went to the Sweet 16 with Iowa State and USC. 

His USC team had momentum going into the 2009-2010 season. 

Coming off of a Pac-10 Tournament Championship and a first-round NCAA Tournament win, Arizona courted him to leave L.A. for Tucson.

Floyd decided to stay where he could build something rather than try to keep building on what another great coach, Lute Olson, had already established.  

Allegedly handing a paper sack with cash in it to a handler for O.J. Mayo was probably the furthest thing from his mind when he had his choice of two Pac-10 schools, one a former national champion.

The Mayo saga was in the 24-hour news cycle for a few days. One of the guys who had his hand out ended up being left out so he called ESPN and they ran with it. 

I remember not being surprised as the perception persists in the college basketball recruiting season that if you aren't cheating then you are not trying.

Mayo is now making jaws drop in the NBA. 

When his college basketball career was in the news cycle, people said that he was well-known since he was in the eighth grade.

Like the sluggers in baseball, whoever landed Mayo for his one-and-done season of college basketball was going to be linked to cheating.

The final result was a career-killer for Floyd. Perception is reality and all of the winning he did in his college basketball career was handed away in a paper sack. 

I like Tim Floyd. I liked Kelvin Sampson. I liked Eddie Sutton. I was spoiled by Lute Olson, who really did do it the right way. 

Never really liked Bobby Knight and he did it the right way, too, so that's a thinker.

What I really don't like is the intrusion of the NBA business and lifestyle into college basketball that was created by this ridiculous one-and-done rule. The NBA literally tells a grown man of 18 years old that you cannot work for us.

Tim Floyd made his choice and he has to suffer the consequences. 

Is he really that worse off though? 

Look at the lengths he had to choose to go to in order to get a player that would not build anything but his NBA stock. Mayo's USC team lost to Michael Beasley's Kansas State team in the only NCAA tournament for both players.

Tim Floyd can leave the recruiting trail that has become sullied with the tracks of sports agents.  He does not have to worry about where he will coach next or worry about the next eighth grader that is turning people's heads.

If he has the NBA Ticket on Satellite, he could watch OJ Mayo get a triple-double for the Grizzlies or catch the highlights in the 24-hour news cycle.  

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