Del Harris Rumors
“Del is like an encyclopedia of basketball,” said No. 6 all-time NBA scorer and Mavericks’ legend Dirk Nowitzki. “I would always go to Del and see what he has to say because he knows so much. He’s been around forever. “He’s given the game of basketball so much. He’s a pleasure to talk to and I could talk to him for hours. Great guy. Coached a lot of NBA greats. And he’s done a lot for our sport and our league. I’m a huge Del fan and congratulations on getting this award. Well, well done.”
The award recipient is selected annually by a committee comprised of some of the most respected coaches and basketball executives in the game, including Bernie Bickerstaff, Billy Cunningham, Joe Dumars, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, Donnie Walsh and Lenny Wilkens. The award has been given out since 2009. Tom Heinsohn was the first recipient and others to win the honor include Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan and Bernie Bickerstaff.
Apart from losing in the NBA finals against the Boston Celtics back in 2008, not playing in his first two, three years was the least favorite part in his illustrious career. Even though the Lakers at that time had solid players on the guard positions, Kobe believes he should have played more minutes. He said the main reason why that didn’t happen was because of the Dell Harris, who was the head coach for the Lakers during those years. “There were a couple of them. Losing to the Celtics in 08 was tough. Before that, at the beginning of the journey, it was not playing. Coming in as a rookie knowing s— is going to be like this, I would go back to school because I felt like my coach Del Harris at the time was trying to make sure he is not favoring the young kids and as a result, he swan in the other direction doing things that weren’t really fair. My first 2,3 years were a nightmare for me.”
During that period, he was actively questioning his decision to come to the NBA and not going to college, thinking he would at least play more minutes in NCAA. “I saw my peers playing 30-35 minutes per game doing their thing, and I am sitting here glued to the bench. I was getting really pissed off and ticketed off, thinking I should have just go to college. That was the hardest part.”
It wasn’t your first year in Milwaukee and it wasn’t Del Harris’ first year as coach, so what made you two decide it was time for you to start shooting threes in 1988? Jack Sikma: It really had to do with my skill set and the roster makeup. I think there were some matchups from some of the other positional players where we felt they had advantages in the post and they were good post players. I’m talking about Terry Cummings. A lot of times we’d put him in the post to get his matchup. Ricky Pierce, Paul Pressey. By then, Sidney (Moncrief) was gone, but we had a number of guys that from a matchup standpoint, Del felt we could use that in the post.
Jack Sikma destroyed the myth big men couldn’t be as effective outside of the lane as in it. Sikma went to a place on the court seldom ventured before by players his size. “Dirk Nowitzki gets the credit for being the first 7-footer to be a prolific 3-point shooter because, simply, most people who are writing today (about the NBA) don’t have the background of what happened 30, 40 years ago,’’ said 82-year-old Del Harris, who was Sikma’s head coach for the 7-footer’s last three NBA seasons in Milwaukee. “But Jack was the first 7-footer to be a prolific 3-point shooter.’’
Not only did Sikma take an inordinate number of 3-pointers for a center, but he made a high rate of them: 38 percent. That tied him with Danny Ainge for 16th place overall in the category. The next best 3-point shooting percentage for a center that season was Bill Laimbeer at 34 percent. No other center shot above 21 percent from 3-point range. “Del put me in that position and it worked out well,’’ Sikma said. “We kind of set the tone. We were a great example of what it could be in the future. And you see it today all the time.’’ Sikma paused and added, “I would fit in today’s game.’’