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Bobby Simmons, Reno Bighorns superstar
While he was an undergrad at Indiana University, Frank's first four years of basketball experience were spent managing under the legendary Bob Knight.
If there's a better man from whom to learn how to play the game, and how to pour all of your emotions into the art of coaching, I've never heard of him.
Upon graduating, Frank spent time as an assistant with both the University of Tennessee and Marquette University, before moving up to the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies, serving as Brian Hill's assistant coach.
Then, in 2004, the New Jersey Nets chose Frank to succeed Byron Scott as their head coach.
The Nets roster was better than average at the time, but their ability to compete with the top teams of the league were noticeably diminished.
Despite this, Frank led the Nets to the playoffs in his first four seasons with the team, of which he made it to the second round three times.
Frank got canned in 2009 after an abysmal 0-16 start. This looks worse than it actually was, as his best player at the time was Devin Harris.
Frank looked eerily similar in the days before his Nets firing as Jeff Van Gundy did when he stormed out on the Knicks. Both were balding and broken.
After a six-month hiatus, Doc Rivers needed to replace Tom Thibodeau on his staff. The level-headed Frank was the logical successor.
As Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe rightly put it:
The fit was too good, too perfect. It would mean an easy transition, no time wasted getting a new assistant to understand a system that had long been favored by Rivers, a system that came out of the “Pat Riley tree,’’ as Rivers put it.
It would mean no buy-in, no adjustment for the veterans, no unsettling something that was already proven to work. Frank would command the respect of the players, and that was as important as already knowing the system.
This paragraph pretty much sums it up. Frank never had to deal with a player's personality getting in his way–that's Doc's job.
If Rivers can grasp the fact that having Frank (someone who is more emphatic and knowledgeable running the defense) is the best way to run a successful team, D'Antoni should see it, too.
D'Antoni didn't want a defensive specialist when he was head coach of the Phoenix Suns, but things are different now. The stakes are much higher in New York.
It is plain to see that the only way that this team can achieve victory at the highest level is to hire a coach who cares about defense. There is nobody available who can do that job better than Lawrence Frank.