Chris Haynes sat down with Brandon Roy yesterday in Minneapolis and got an earful. Roy has had another setback, yes -- but he also seems more grounded and at peace with himself than he was at other times during his latest comeback. You need to read the story if you haven't already.
But one thing in the piece caught my eye and that was Roy's interest in coaching:
“Now, I think there's something in me that I can offer to basketball. There's a message that I can bring to basketball. I wasn't the fastest, the highest jumper, but my knowledge of the game helped me be an effective player at a high level,” Roy said. “Coaching at the NBA level is where I see myself. If this season is it for me, I'm not staying away from basketball. I would want to get in as soon as possible.”
I agree that Roy has something to give. Smart basketball players usually make smart basketball coaches. But not always. And I'm curious to see just how Roy would adjust to the life of a coach. It's a life of very long days, not just working with players but learning the league and spending hours with video learning how to break down another team's strengths and weaknesses.
I've always felt guys who were great players have a tougher time adjusting to the life of a coach than the role players do. For one thing, role players tend to be more analytical and grounded in fundamentals because they had to be in order just to make it out on the floor and get playing time. And often the great players succeed based on physical talent, rather than guile -- although that was not necessarily the case with Roy. But there's one more reason that star players struggle with the life of a coach:
Money. A lot of young guys breaking into the coaching business aren't very well fixed financially. They work their tail off in their new job because they must -- it's a living. It's a chance to make some real money if they can ever work their way down the bench to a head coaching position. And in many cases, that's money unlike any they've ever earned.
But with stars like Roy, the money is nothing. Even if he's a head coach someday, he won't be paid the way he has been compensated as a player. Not that he's going to need the money, it's just that the money will not serve as motivation the way it does for some hungry young coaches. So will Brandon Roy be willing to sit for hours in front of a video screen breaking down the way the Cleveland Cavaliers run their side out-of-bounds plays? Or look at hours of tape on the way the Memphis Grizzlies attack a side pick-and-roll? This is what assistant coaches do in the NBA. For hours. And hours.
And then they go out and work with players on very basic fundamental skills. They spend days standing around throwing passes to players coming off imaginary picks for catch-and-shoot jump shots or post-ups. It's boring work, particularly for some of the robots I see doing this who pay little attention to the slipshod fundamentals of the players they are working with. Man, how do you spend an hour working with an NBA big man on rolling off a pick and not tell him he turned the wrong way? Or throwing the ball to a wing for jump shots without telling him he travels before he shoots about 80 percent of the time?
But I digress.
My point is this -- the early days in the development of a young coach are filled with drudgery. What you see on the sidelines during a game is about one percent of what these guys are expected to do during their work day. I have nothing but admiration for how hard most of these people work. I've seen a lot of former players get that first coaching job and then a year or two later bail out for a job that doesn't require they work harder than they ever have in their life. It takes a special, driven person to succeed as a big-time basketball coach these days.
Will Brandon Roy be one of those people? I don't know. But it won't be long, most likely, before we find out.