Lenny Wilkens Rumors
“I’ll say this,” Karl said. “I don’t know if you want to write it. But I know it’s No. 5 because it’s Phil Jackson.” He gave a quick laugh. “Because no one has kicked my ass often as Phil Jackson. So I know that. Do I know the order of one, two three, four? I know Nellie’s one. I don’t know whose two, three, four. I think I know who they are, but I don’t know who’s two or who’s three or who’s four. I have no numbers. But I can’t deny that I know it’s five because it’s Phil Jackson.” His friend Nelson is first, with 1,335 victories. Lenny Wilkens is second, 1,332. Jerry Sloan third, at 1,221. Pat Riley fourth, 1,210. Jackson fifth, 1,155.
Q: Who are the coaches that have influenced you most as you worked your way up the coaching ladder? Mark Price: All my coaches. I feel fortunate. I had the opportunity to play under some great coaches along the way. My dad being my first coach I was around all the time, going on to Bobby Cremins in college (at Georgia Tech) and the chance to play under him, and then moving into the NBA with Lenny Wilkens my first seven years when I got in the pros. I would probably say I learned something from all of them. Then it’s just about kind of developing my own style with my personality and taking the great things that I’ve learned from all my coaches over the years and trying to incorporate them into what I want to do.
Q: Lenny Wilkens is obviously the one who stands out from your playing career. Is there one or two coaches that you feel have had the biggest influence on you from when you were an assistant coach? MP: Obviously I had a chance to work under guys like Stan Van Gundy and Steve Clifford the last two years in Charlotte, who was a Van Gundy disciple himself. I really learned a lot. Both of those guys were extremely organized and detailed in what they did in their approach. I learned a lot getting an opportunity to work alongside those guys.
Colangelo told me it was about understanding and connecting with a vast array of personality types, getting the trust of NBA superstars who could sacrifice ego for the good of the team. First, Colangelo wanted to hear first-hand what it was like to be a player on the Olympic basketball team. It’s a unique experience, and he didn’t want to assume he had all the answers. Picking the “right” coach depended on his understanding how the players felt and what motivated them.
In what can only be described as a virtual “Who’s Who” of NBA superstar talent, in 2005 Colangelo called a special meeting of former Olympian basketball players. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Jerry West, and Hall of Fame Coaches Dean Smith, Lenny Wilkens, and Chuck Daly, among others, gave their input. It was a superstar group therapy session. They laid bare all concerns—one of most hailed players of our time, for instance, voiced concerns about looking stupid on a global stage. At that moment, choosing the right coach became a very personal endeavor.