Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thinkable

Watching the Finals Game 3, I couldn’t help thinking peripheral thoughts: like, just how good is Mark Jackson going to be as coach, anyway? The game was of a high quality, and while the series is tied the Heat have overall looked more authoritative, so I see little reason to deviate from my prediction that the Heat will win in six.

So back to the coaching thing. Jackson plays the hype man to van Gundy’s strategy man in the three-man booth (though van Gundy has, as the three-man booth thing goes on, increasingly tended to Jackson’s level), and tends to speak mostly excitedly in clich├ęs while offering below-average-to-average strategic commentary. This does not sound like a guy ready to outwit the NBA (though, then again, many NBA head coaches don’t sound like they’re ready to outwit the NBA, and are prepared to act like it too.)

It’s kind of interesting that no one has protested or finds the hire very interesting at all, but here we are. This is the kind of situation that doesn’t seem to work out well, and we know it, and yet it is acceptable to appoint him. This is a strange kind of conventional wisdom that allows a front office to make this kind of hire, and makes it thinkable, despite the evidence and the feeling that it is not a very good idea at all. People, particularly those in power, are surprisingly constrained by what is thinkable and what isn’t thinkable, and it’s kind of weird that hiring a prominent European head coach directly to a head coaching position in the NBA (like Ettore Messina, who’ll be an assistant coach for the Lakers) is unthinkable whereas hiring an inexperienced guy who doesn’t seem particularly sharp on air is totally thinkable. But such are the strange ways of power.

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