Tuesday, May 25, 2010

All Elie has done is win

Sacramento Kings assistant coach Mario Elie's name is not among the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to NBA coaching candidates.

But it should be right there.

Elie can bring three rings to any potential interview with a team trying to win a title. Elie played an integral role in Houston winning two rings and one more in San Antonio. So he's seen how it's done and then helped do it.

Elie was an 11-year NBA player after being drafted in the seventh round (the 160th overall pick) by the Milwaukee Bucks out of American International College - a Division II school in Springfield, Mass. He played in Portugal, Argentina, Ireland as well as the USBL, WBL and the CBA before a 10-day contract with Philadelphia in 1990 led to deals with Portland, Houston, San Antonio and Phoenix.

He speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French and has been an assistant under San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Dallas' Avery Johnson and Rick Carlisle.

Elie never has been a head coach, but he's had every other experience one can bring to the table.

What he also brings leadership, toughness and the respect of players - qualities that are irreplaceable for a successful coach.

It'll take a strong, independently-thinking general manager to hire Elie, especially for a team with legitimate title aspirations, with nay-sayers ready to pounce.

The good thing for Elie is hasn't had to take a job with a bad team. The bad thing is he's not even spoken about as being a candidate. He has interviewed with Charlotte and Sacramento.

However, at some point, a team will show the intelligence and the stones to recognize Elie is a hidden gem waiting to be plucked.

Some one had to give Popovich, Byron Scott, Carlisle and Johnson, among many others, a chance to be a head coach. Many of the league's head coaches had never run the show before getting their NBA shot.

It's time for front-office intelligence to take over. However, now we'll see how long that takes to occur.

By the way, Utah's assistant Tyrone Corbin and Houston's assistant Elston Turner also fit smoothly into this category.

As an aside, after watching Mike Brown get jettisoned in Cleveland Sunday after back-to-back 60-win seasons, there are more secure gigs to be sought, for sure.

NBA Finals matchup

If the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics meet in the NBA championship series, the Lakers will go from dominating the questionable defense of the Phoenix Suns to the superior defense of the Celtics.

There may not be a bigger gap in the playoffs than going from the Suns defense to the Celtics'.

Yo, LeBron, Wake Up!

Derryl Zimmerman, one of my former roommates, of which there have been many, makes this salient point.

LeBron James said next season he was changing his number from 23 to 6 out of respect for Michael Jordan, the almost universally acknowledged 'greatest player' ever.

So James picked No. 6 - the same number worn by Bill Russell, the greatest winner, perhaps in the history of professional sports.

History, my brother, history.

Seven lost teeth

Chicago Black Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith lost an amazing seven teeth Sunday against the San Jose Sharks when he was struck in the mouth by a puck.

Keith returned later in the game to play more minutes than anyone on either team.
That kind of gives a description of 'toughness' new meaning, doesn't it?
And I wasn't thinking, crazy, nutty or insane, though those also came quickly to mind.

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