There’s this clip of an interview from sometime in the ’70s where Howard Cosell goes on a rant about the growing number of ex-pro athletes getting TV broadcasting jobs. Cosell’s big gripe was that kids coming out of college with journalism and broadcasting degrees eventually wouldn’t be able to get jobs because they were being taken by unqualified athletes who got work simply based on their name. Who knew how correct he would be?
And now, some 30-40 years later, that trend Cosell hated is even going back the other way. Recently, it seems the best way to get a coaching job in the NBA, NFL, MLB or the college ranks is to spend a few years working in TV and allowing the whole country to see your expertise. Why else do you think Mark Jackson‘s name keeps popping up as an NBA head coaching candidate even though he has zero experience on the bench at any level?
Or just look at the New Jersey Nets. As the team wraps up a season that just narrowly avoided being the worst of all-time, GM Kiki Vandeweghe is preparing to step away from the interim coaching gig and (if he’s still around in his current role) help in hiring a full-timer on the bench. According to the New York Daily News, the top two candidates are a pair of TV analysts:
On the coaching front, (CEO Brett) Yormark said (president Rod) Thorn will be looking for a “game changer” to succeed interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe.
“When the time is right, (Thorn) will make the right selection,” Yormark said. “Rod will attract that type of coach.”
Jeff Van Gundy continues to head the team’s wish list, as the Daily News first reported on Jan. 31. One Nets official said yesterday that Thorn wants to hire a coach with previous NBA head coaching experience. His previous two hires in New Jersey, Byron Scott and Lawrence Frank, did not have experience as NBA head coaches.
After Van Gundy, the ex-Knick coach who is an analyst on ABC and has always been thought highly of by Thorn, former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson is on Thorn’s list, sources said. Although he loves doing his TV work, Van Gundy has indicated he would be willing to listen to teams with coaching vacancies.
Vandeweghe, meanwhile, has told associates in recent weeks that he would not be surprised if he does not get a new deal as GM.
It’s not like JVG and Avery are bad choices: Van Gundy won 52 games with Houston in his last go-around, ’06-07, while Avery guided Dallas to the ’06 NBA Finals and won 50-plus games in each of his three full seasons with the Mavericks. But the fact that both of them are currently on TV and able to basically audition as coaches on a weekly basis in front of a national audience definitely helps their case. Meanwhile, longtime assistants around the League and “no-name” rising youngsters continually get overlooked to the League can recycle old names for one more run.
Who would you look to hire if you were running the Nets?