Bernie Bickerstaff Rumors
Q: Did you workout for the Nuggets prior to the draft? A: No, I didn’t. They had already watched me enough. I think Bernie Bickerstaff and the management team had done good research on me and to know where I was coming from and what my goals and objectives were, so I didn’t really have to workout for the Nuggets. They knew what kind of player I was going to be because of the institution that I came from.
Eric Pincus: Also here at BDA Sports Day – Ryan West, Pat Riley, Bernie Bickerstaff – in general, Lakers have large contingent present
Long-time NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff, currently an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers, is the recipient of the 2014 “Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award”, the National Basketball Coaches Association announced today.
He also gives his feelings on the team’s coaching carousel and his near-trade to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul in 2011. “The last two season have been challenging and difficult. The constant trade rumors, injuries and coaching changes — from Phil Jackson to Mike Brown, from Mike to Bernie Bickerstaff and from Bernie to Mike D’Antoni — have been a lot to take in.”
Former Nuggets coach Bernie Bickerstaff will be an assistant on Mike Brown’s new staff with the Cleveland Cavaliers. General manager Chris Grant divulged the hiring of Bickerstaff on Friday after the team introduced top pick Anthony Bennett, who was taken first overall by Cleveland in Thursday night’s NBA draft.
Mary Schmitt Boyer/Jodie Valade: #Cavs have hired Bernie Bickerstaff and Bret Brielmaier as assistant coaches
Preferring a small staff to the one he inherited from previous coach Mike Brown, current Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni will not retain assistants Chuck Person and Bernie Bickerstaff for the 2013-14 season. Fellow 2012-13 assistant Eddie Jordan recently accepted the head coaching job at Rutgers University, leaving three assistants on D’Antoni’s staff: Steve Clifford, Darvin Ham and Mike’s brother Dan D’Antoni.
All that different? “It’s night-and-day between Mike Brown and D’Antoni. Bernie was somewhere in between, trying to hold things together,” Jamison described. “It was totally different, as far as the things each wanted offensively and defensively.”
Jamison is fine with the scrutiny attached to a major media market and the Lakers’ winning tradition. What he didn’t anticipate was Los Angeles firing coach Mike Brown five games into the season. Former Bobcats coach/general manager Bernie Bickerstaff filled in before D’Antoni took over. “We had three different training camps with three different coaches,” Jamison said. “So it’s been a lot of confusion on the players’ parts, trying to figure everything out.”
For parts of 13 seasons, he has been the head coach for four different franchises — Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte. He came to the Lakers with a 427-538 record that is considered as reflective of his rosters — he was the first coach for the expansion Bobcats — as his coaching ability. When he was asked by General Mitch Kupchak to replace Brown moments after the coach was suddenly fired, Bickerstaff shrugged and said fine. The Lakers loved him, averaging 103.8 points a game during his tenure, a figure which would currently lead the league. And now that it’s over? Now that his moment of national glory has come and gone in seemingly seven seconds or less? “The one person I’ve got to be all right with is me, and I’m OK with me,” said Bickerstaff. “There’s no levitating here. I’m going to keep my feet on the ground and enjoying everything around me.”
Bernie Bickerstaff will celebrate Thanksgiving with the greatest winning percentage of any former Lakers coach, and you laugh, and he laughs, but those five games he served as the interim boss between Mike Brown and D’Antoni were a triumphant lap in a lifelong trip across a landscape of poverty and racism. In quieting Lakers chaos and leading them to a 4-1 record that may eventually represent four of the most important wins of the season, Bickerstaff traveled from a Kentucky mining hollow to Hollywood. From a gravel court and coat hanger rim to Staples Center. From childhood outhouses to basketball’s penthouse. “Growing up the way I grew up, you get through all that, this is like candy,” he said.
D’Antoni told reporters before the game that Bickerstaff would remain on his staff for the remainder of the season. “That’s nice to know,” Bickerstaff said, when informed of D’Antoni’s plans to keep him as an assistant coach.
The feel-good story even extended to assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who improved to 4-1 since taking over game responsibilities after Mike Brown was fired Nov. 9. Bickerstaff was all but guaranteed a spot on D’Antoni’s coaching staff. “Unless he loses tonight,” D’Antoni joked before tipoff. “No pressure.”
Mike Trudell: Mike D’Antoni will not be on the sideline tonight, after all. Bernie Bickerstaff will continue to run the ship.
Question: Will D’Antoni add anybody to the staff if he does part ways with Bickerstaff or any of the rest of the assistant coaches? Kupchak: “I’m not sure he’s going to add people. I think he’s going to add his brother (Dan D’Antoni) and then evaluate the present staff and that may take a little bit of time, so that’s kind of where it is right now.”
Question: Will Bickerstaff be retained on the staff? Kupchak: “That is going to be Mike’s decision, but Bernie has done a wonderful job. He stepped into an awkward situation and really did a wonderful job.”
Coach Bernie Bickerstaff gave newly hired Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni a few insights about the players and their plans for San Antonio, then asked him for a favor. “I told him to hurry up and get this seat …. it’s hot,” Bickerstaff told a crowd of reporters after Monday’s practice.
D’Antoni, who still lives in Westchester, underwent major knee-replacement surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago and will need doctor’s clearance to get on the bench. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff said D’Antoni is expected to fly to L.A. tomorrow for his introductory press conference. D’Antoni is expected to bring in his former Knicks and Phoenix assistants, Phil Weber and Dan D’Antoni, to L.A. “I think it’s a great opportunity for him,’’ Dan D’Antoni told The Post. “New York was a great place to be and this is one of the top franchises in the league. It’s top end. Mike’s a good coach and they’re good players.’’
Mike Trudell: In related news, Bernie Bickerstaff will continue to serve as interim coach for at least the next few days.
World Peace spoke about how blessed players and coaches are for the lives they have. “I think it’s a good life and it’s a good job, at the end of the day,” World Peace said. “I get the chance to go out there and have fun.” As far as what happened to the Lakers this season, starting 1-4 before Friday night’s victory over the Golden State Warriors, interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff had a simple answer. “Yeah, there was something missing . . . [Steve] Nash.”
Despite the many calls for Brown’s job around L.A., the mood at Staples Center on Friday night was more awkward than elated. Assistant coaches who just started working for the Lakers this season are finished with the team but still languishing on the bench. One of them, Bernie Bickerstaff, hired Brown for his first job as video coordinator in Denver and is now the Lakers interim coach. During a tense pre-game press conference, which was even attended by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, it seemed Bickerstaff was biting his tongue to keep from lashing out at the club he was coaching. “It’s a tough situation,” Bickerstaff admitted.