Despite sporting a career 2-1 record as a head coach, the Cleveland Cavaliers' Tyronn Lue will lead the East team on Feb. 14 in the NBA All-Star Game, per Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group.
Lue took over Jan. 22 after the Cavaliers (30-11 at the time) fired former coach David Blatt. He is eligible to coach because Cleveland sports the conference's best record.
The NBA released a statement on the guidelines regarding who can coach in the game, via Fred Katz of FoxSports.com: "Head coaches whose teams have the best records in each conference following the games played two weeks prior to the All-Star Game serve as the All-Star Game head coaches, but no head coach is allowed to participate in two consecutive All-Star Games."
That makes Lue eligible and means he'll be coaching against a Western Conference team featuring Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who will play in his 18th and final All-Star Game. Per Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com, it makes for an interesting factoid:
So here's something: When Kobe Bryant made his first All-Star appearance in 1998, Tyronn Lue was still playing point guard at Nebraska.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) January 27, 2016
There is the potential for three of Lue's former teammates to be playing in the exhibition, per Matt Moore of CBSSports.com:
So, if Dirk and Horford make it, Tyronn Lue will have played with three of the players in the game he’s coaching.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 28, 2016
Lue is honored to have such a privilege, per Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:
Ty Lue on coaching All-Star game: It's a tribute to Coach Blatt, players and coaching staff— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) January 28, 2016
Gregg Popovich will be Lue's counterpart on the Western Conference squad. The San Antonio Spurs head coach has just a few more NBA games under his belt, per Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:
2016 NBA All-Star Game: Coaching Comparison pic.twitter.com/HEjdNzZdCE— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) January 28, 2016
By the time the game rolls around, Lue will be the most inexperienced All-Star coach ever, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Fewest career games at time of coaching All-Star Game 2016 Tyronn Lue: 11* 1982 Pat Riley: 32 *Includes games leading into All-Star break— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 28, 2016
It's a rare situation for Lue to be in, but it's not his fault. He's the current head coach of the East's best team despite what some view as the untimely firing of Blatt. One of his players, forward Kevin Love, jokingly pointed out Lue's impressive coaching record, per Lloyd:
Kevin Love on Ty Lue coaching East: "He's won 66% of his games."— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) January 28, 2016
It's not as if the All-Star Game is overflowing with strategy. The best players in the world are on the court at the same time, and they try to entertain the fans with dunks, no-look passes and deep three-pointers, meaning defense—and even coaches—takes a backseat.
If anyone understands the players on these rosters, it's the 38-year-old Lue, even if it's because he's played against or with a few of them.