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Eric Musselman Is Thriving in University Hoops. Will the NBA At any time Contact Once more?


The NBA, like each individual other professional sports activities league, recycles coaches. Mike D’Antoni unsuccessful in Denver, succeeded in Phoenix, quit in New York and flopped in Los Angeles just before regaining his footing in Houston. Terry Stotts was fired in Atlanta and Milwaukee in advance of acquiring good results in Portland. And there are countless some others.

Which brings me to Eric Musselman.

College hoop junkies know Musselman as the hyperactive mentor of No. 10 Nevada. He took over a careening program in 2015, gained 24 game titles in his 1st 12 months, 28 in his 2nd and very last season led the Wolfpack to the Sweet 16, exactly where he attained accolades for his coaching—and net infamy for his willingness to consider his shirt off.

NBA fans don’t forget Musselman a minimal in another way. They recall a 37-year-aged wunderkind using over the Warriors in 2002, only to be fired right after two seasons. They keep in mind him moving throughout the Bay, to Sacramento, in 2006, where by he was let go after a single turbulent, 33-earn season.

In 2015, I flew out to Reno to better recognize Eric Musselman 2.. It has been a humbling journey for the nomadic coach. Radioactive right after Sacramento, Musselman disappeared for a few yrs. He reemerged in 2010, in the G-League, as the head coach of the Lakers small league affiliate. Two many years afterwards he jumped to the university ranks—as an assistant. He expended two decades at Arizona State and 1 at LSU right before using the occupation at Nevada.

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“I assume for my sons, it was challenging, due to the fact they were being utilized to looking at their father as an NBA head coach or an NBA assistant,” Musselman advised SI.com. “And so I think that, from a pleasure standpoint, I believe it was hurtful to them. My younger son primarily kept saying, ‘Dad, just go again to the NBA. I want you to be an NBA assistant.’ That was tricky.”

Indeed. But extra than a 10 years immediately after his firing in Sacramento, Musselman is on prime again. Nevada is 16–1 this time. They are monitoring for a substantial seed in the NCAA match. Some are contacting the Wolfpack the future iteration of Gonzaga, a mid-key powerhouse. Pundits like Steve Lappas imagine they can gain a nationwide title.

This is the place you marvel if the NBA is seeing again. Believe of the scorching assistants the past 10 yrs. Mike Budenholzer. Quin Snyder. Kenny Atkinson. That was Musselman. He was Erik Spoelstra prior to Erik Spoelstra. He apprenticed beneath Chuck Daly and Doc Rivers. The son of legendary CBA coach Monthly bill Musselman, Eric has coaching in his DNA.

And nevertheless when NBA coaching positions open up up, Musselman isn’t pointed out. When university-to-professional coaching candidates are talked about, Musselman’s name is not on any lists.

Few individuals are as acquainted with Musselman’s NBA bona fides as Garry St. Jean, the ex-Warriors GM who employed Musselman in 2002. On Thursday, St. Jean recalled how ready Musselman was for his task interview (“The quantity of content he brought weighed extra than him,” St. Jean instructed SI.com) though lamenting how things ended for him, with clashes with upper administration accelerating his exit.

“I just cannot say just about anything damaging about his coaching,” St. Jean claimed. “When [you get fired], it is not all about you. It is about the full firm, and its philosophies. You have to have anyone on the identical web site.”

Musselman has no regrets about his time in Golden State. “When I still left there, my head was held significant,” Musselman claimed. Sacramento was a distinctive tale. Musselman walked into a difficult situation. Numerous of the players on the roster used years taking part in for Rick Adelman—and most continue to wanted to be. He by no means clicked with GM Geoff Petrie—who did not want to employ the service of him in the 1st put. That was an ownership selection, which set the tone for a shaky romance.

Musselman won’t make excuses for his time in Sacramento. “That was the a single time I felt as a coach I unsuccessful,” Musselman mentioned. But it was a turbulent time in his lifestyle. He was going as a result of a divorce. His young children lived 90 minutes away, with their mom. He’d complete tactics and invest hours in site visitors to devote time with his small children. The strain, he claims, was overpowering. In the preseason, Musselman was arrested for DUI.

“A divorce is tough enough when you might be residing in the exact city, but the guilt that I had on a everyday basis, of not observing my son perform or be there to select him up immediately after university, was a distraction for certain,” Musselman stated. “I really don’t think it was healthy. I might in all probability do the same thing even right now, just due to the fact my children are that important. But I know it affected my electrical power level at occasions.”

In quick: Sacramento was a mess. But that was 12 decades ago. Musselman’s own lifestyle has stabilized. He is remarried, to previous sports broadcaster Danyelle Sargent, and his son, Michael, is a graduate assistant on his coaching team. He has rebuilt his name in the G-League and intercontinental coaching stops in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In a couple of months, he hopes to compete for a national championship.

So why has not the NBA discovered?

Check with all-around and you get a range of vague answers. In the NBA, Musselman had a name of remaining hard to offer with. In Golden Point out, he clashed with management more than his desire to engage in veterans over younger players. “He’s a pretty straightforward man,” St. Jean said. “There’s no debate about his basketball expertise. The basketball stuff, he checks all the containers. But you have to come to feel relaxed with him.”

Sacramento was a mess, but the Kings have cycled by means of 8 coaches given that firing Musselman and have zero playoff appearances to show for it. Musselman may possibly have contributed to the Kings downturn, but he was far from the root trigger of it.

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In a new telephone interview, Musselman can make it clear he’s not lobbying for another task. “I adore it at Nevada,” Musselman said. “It’s likely the most enjoyable 3 1/2 a long time I’ve had in coaching.” But reminisce with him for a couple of minutes on his NBA days and it’s apparent there’s a portion of him that thinks there is unfinished enterprise. He however follows the NBA carefully if he’s not viewing Mountain West convention online games, the NBA is on the Tv. He talks about the staffers in Golden State he is even now in touch with. He appears at coaches like Daly and Tom Thibodeau, coaches who did not get head coaching alternatives till later in their professions, and miracles what could possibly have been experienced he been a tiny far more seasoned.

“There are a large amount of fellas that get work opportunities just before they had ample encounter,” Musselman mentioned. “I feel I was a person of individuals guys.”

Who is aware of if the NBA will at any time occur calling all over again? Orlando experienced internal discussions about Musselman throughout its coaching lookup final summer months, league resources instructed SI.com. Musselman is 54, but nonetheless coaches with the zeal of a male many years younger. “I see the similar individuality, I see the same like and thirst for the game,” St. Jean said. “The passion on the sideline, it is there. Players can tell, much too. They know in which you are in terms of your understanding, your enthusiasm. He experienced it a extensive time ago, and he’s however got it.”

Occur March, Musselman will have a probability to thicken his school résumé, to take Nevada deep into the tournament and perhaps make a handful of new lovers with his wild, shirtless celebrations in the procedure. College or university basketball has taken detect of Eric Musselman—even if the NBA will not.



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