David Fizdale Rumors
“It came towards the end of my career when I joined the Heat. David Fitzdale is one of the guys who inspired and talked me into coaching,” Howard said. “I’m always going to point the finger at him. At first my mind-set was built on working in the front office, being a scout, and building my way up. “I had a great conversation one time. Coach Fitzdale came to my house and we had a drink of wine and we were talking and he felt like this team needed me. He felt also the way I grabbed the respect from the guys in the locker room and the leadership qualities and also my knowledge and experience from the game of basketball, that it would be needed on his staff.”
When you heard the news of the African-American men killed by police recently in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, what came to mind? Rodney King. Took me all the way back to the riots [in 1992]. Took me back all the way back to, ‘I can’t believe this is still happening.’ Another black male being just like, treated like spit. Not being valued, and not … No one taking the time to take a deep breath again. And, again it’s another black male. This really takes you back to what you go through as a kid. I just remember a few times in high school right before the riots, you get pulled over and …
How common? I would say four times a week I got pulled over. I was like 15, 16 years old. I was going to high school. You know as a kid, only one guy had a car. So we pile in that thing four or five deep, you know. But that was like the trigger for, ‘Oh, we’re pulling that car over.’ It just got to a point where, it just didn’t feel like you can move around freely. And this was America, and we were good kids, we weren’t even bad kids, we were basketball players. Not that I didn’t have buddies that were gangbanging or family members that were gangbangers. But we were just basketball guys. All of us took great pride in being really good basketball players.
How was your grandfather murdered? I was a sophomore at [the University of] San Diego. My grandfather went to the bank to get money out for Christmas gifts. He always did the same thing before Thanksgiving. Good ol’ deacon. Got his money out. Drives to the house, on 56th and Hoover. Parks his car, starts to walk up the pathway into his house that he bought with his hard-earned money as a garbage man. Forty years or 30 years as a sanitation worker. Neighborhood guy. Everybody in the neighborhood knows him. He does everything for everybody in the neighborhood. Three kids follow him up to the front of the house, rob him at gunpoint. My little cousins were inside. My uncle was inside. When he refused to let them in the house, one of the kids shot him three times. My grandfather chases him after being shot. Takes a brick, busts out the back window of their car as they are speeding off. He drops on the ground, and he survives from that point to maybe mid- to late February.
Memphis is breaking the record for the murder rate. So again, I empathize with them. But my biggest concern is how do I help these young black men in the neighborhood stop killing each other first. Stop creating an environment of terror for the good people that are in their neighborhood because those poor people have to live in it. It ain’t like they have a lot of options to move around. When you’re living check to check, or below, it’s not like you got places to move that’s going to be better than that.
He wants to play faster. He wants to continue to rely heavily on the Core Four (Conley, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol). And Fizdale is renowned for developing young players. During his introductory press conference, Fizdale discussed maintaining the Grizzlies’ defensive, grit-and-grind mentality. He does have tweaks in mind that include Conley taking on more of a scoring role and playing off the ball. “He spoke (to me) of culture and spoke of the commitment a team has to have to have a championship mindset,” Conley said. “He explained to me the steps we need to take to achieve that goal. He wants to play faster. He wants to create more space. He’s very convincing.”