Coaching is still the most popular avenue athletes take at the end of their playing careers.
They trade in their uniforms for Dockers and clipboards, and move to the sidelines to coach up the next generation. Putting on the headset, calling the plays and giving the signs is still the most common path to a stable retirement – even better than the latest trends involving television analysis and suing a league.
But the grace period between retiring and hiring is now far too short, especially for head coaches and especially in the NBA.
Derek Fisher, a former Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder player, is the latest athlete to go into the halftime locker room as a player and come out a head coach.
He and Steve Kerr, a former Chicago Bulls player and television analyst, were hired this summer and will be among the highest paid coaches in the league.
Kerr went from player to analyst to coach at a similar pace to his predecessor, Mark Jackson, who was fired by Golden State for reasons beyond my understanding.
Fisher was playing in the conference finals, like, yesterday and today he's coaching the New York Knicks.
Neither of these three men had coached a game in their lives before becoming head honchos for professional teams. Neither had Jason Kidd who, like Fisher, became a head coach instantly after playing his last game.
I'm not bothered by the career arcs of Jackson, Kerr or Fisher; at least, not yet.
I'm more than a little bitter about Kidd, who reportedly demanded his way out of the Brooklyn Nets head coaching job last week in favor of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are sending two future second-round draft picks to the Nets in exchange for Kidd. They fired their coach, Larry Drew, this week.
Drew heard all the Kidd-to-Milwaukee talk on the news, but hadn't heard from Bucks ownership. The next time he met with team officials, they fired him.
What did Larry Drew ever do to deserve that and who's to say Kidd is the better coach?
This unfortunate “trade a coach” trend started with Doc Rivers, who jet set from Boston to Los Angeles in 2013 because, among lesser reasons, the Clippers were going to make him head coach and the President of Basketball Operations. ESPN reported this week that Kidd's move will likely yield a similar tag.
It's silly no matter what, but Rivers is at least a much more respected gentleman of the league and earned his coaching chops through years of trial and error.
Kidd hasn't done anything to deserve what he's getting.
I refuse to accept the “great playing career” bit or the “well the Nets won 44 games this season” argument because a Hall of Fame career doesn't guarantee someone a coaching job and the Nets won five more games with a different coach the year before. By that observation, Kidd made the team worse.
If I owned the Nets, I probably would've told Kidd things that I can't write in this column. Either way, he put ownership in a lose-lose situation. As much as I would have liked to put him in timeout and force him to honor the rest of his contract, there's ridiculous risk involved with forcing someone to coach a team he doesn't want to coach.
Kidd shouldn't have this power because he hasn't earned it and, even though I like Rivers, it's a shame that coaches know they have the option.
Players have the “opt out,” free agency and no-trade clauses as options in their contracts. Many with disgruntled attitudes have forced their way out of a franchise before, but you don't see it with coaches.
Don Nelson and Jerry Sloan leave the league and this is what we're left with?
It's hard to argue against players and coaches having similar rights, but what some of these new, young coaches need to understand is that players and coaches are held by different standards.
A discontent player forcing a trade isn't necessarily costing someone their job. Roster movement is so fluid in professional leagues that you don't think twice about it. But Kidd forced his way into a franchise that already had a head coach. There ought to be something on Drew's end that can prevent this from happening.
Maybe this kind of shady, back-door deals have always happened in the NBA and we just never knew about it, but it's an embarrassment for it to unfold so publicly.
The league is enabling coaches like Kidd by allowing this to happen. Former commissioner David Stern blocked the Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers trade, but the league doesn't do anything to prohibit teams from “trading coaches.”
Milwaukee is sending two second-round picks to the Nets for Kidd, but that's all hogwash. The Bucks might as well pay to fill the Nets' locker room vending machines for the next two years instead.
This inexperienced coaching trend is popping up in other leagues, too. St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny got the job without any coaching experience. Same goes for Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Colorado skipper Walt Weiss.
Manny Ramirez was hired by the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate to be a player-coach, which is something you see slightly more often in international soccer.
But these other coaches aren't making ransom demands like Kidd. Even the Rivers to Los Angeles transaction progressed smoother.
It doesn't make a lot of sense how these untested former players are getting such high-paying head coaching jobs, but Kidd is taking it to another level.
Lost in all of this mess is the sad story of Drew, who lost a job.
Some bratty kid wanted to play house in Drew's arena and Milwaukee's enabling owners allowed it.
The Bucks are as much at fault as anybody. What happens when Kidd gets bored? He's heading to a less successful team in a smaller market that is a more stressful project, so what exactly is he looking for in an employer? Was the health insurance not good in Brooklyn?
Drew wasn't going to get fired in Milwaukee before all of this happened because the expectations were low. Kidd, meanwhile, ought to be burdened with unreasonably high expectations because he got his way.
He better show that he's worth something because he decided he wanted to make a big, dramatic exit.
I'll be the guy rooting against him.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Coaching is still the most popular avenue athletes take at the end of their playing careers.
Illini coach Groce stops in Effingham; Speech focuses on team building
A crowded ballroom met for "An Evening with John Groce” Thursday inside the Thelma Keller Convention Center.
Groce has been the men's basketball coach at the University of Illinois since March 2012. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Ohio University, where he led the Bobcats to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012.
His speech was focused on team building and Groce said it was the a variation of the same speech he will give Sunday evening at his beginning-of-the-year players' meeting.
St. Anthony second at Charleston scramble
In their first meet of the season, the St. Anthony Bulldogs came out firing, taking second place at the Charleston Invitational Thursday afternoon.
The tournament was a scramble at Charleston Country Club, and the hosting Trojans took home the tournament with a combined score of 72. St. Anthony was five shots back, shooting a 77. Effingham finished fourth with an 88, and Teutopolis took ninth with a 98.
Czachorski: Lunt the right man at QB
There haven't been many times I've put pen to paper — or I guess more fittingly finger to keyboard — and written about the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Part of it is due to their football team's struggles, as it's hard to have an opinion on them outside of "man, they went 1-7 in the Big 10 last year" or "I remember that one time they went to the Rose Bowl, but that's about it." Part of it is staying in my wheelhouse, which is MAC football and my alma mater Central Michigan Chippewas, a topic that doesn't concern many, if any, around here.
Neoga prepares for upcoming volleyball season
Another area team finds themselves with a new coach holding the clipboard this season.
Susan Hutchinson is the new volleyball coach for the Neoga Indians, but she isn't new to the game of volleyball. Hutchinson coached at Mattoon for seven years when they were still in the Big 12 Conference. She said her new players had to get used to her coaching style very quickly.
Bulldogs fifth at ISU
St. Anthony took to the links for the second-straight day and had a strong showing at the Raider/Redbird Classic.
The Bulldogs finished fifth among a 20-team field, shooting a 318. East Peoria shot a 312 to win it, Normal U-High and Lincoln each shot 315s with Normal winning the tie-breaker, and Bloomington took fourth with a 317.
St. Anthony will lead with speed
For the last five years, Eric Morales has been the assistant coach of the St. Anthony Bulldogs soccer team. But this season he will have his chance at the helm and try to help lead the Bulldogs to their first regional title since 2010.
St. Anthony is missing six seniors from last years team, including its leading goal scorer and starting goalie.
Flaming Hearts win St. Anthony Invitational
The Flaming Hearts of Effingham were the overall winners and also had the medalist. Effingham shot a team score of 312 to beat the host Bulldogs by nine shots. Hearts senior Jackson Wendling finished with a 72 to take medalist honors.
Teutopolis takes opener against St. Thomas More
Teutopolis took the course with a new coach and four players, but as coach Becky Probst said, it takes four to score.
And those four Lady Shoes took their first match of the year, topping Champaign St. Thomas More 216-227 in both teams' openers at Cardinal Golf Course in Effingham.
Time to tee off, golf season starts fall sports campaign today
The fall sports campaign kicks off in earnest Monday afternoon, with the first area varsity contests being held in Windsor and Effingham this afternoon.
The St. Anthony Invitational boys golf tournament will be held at Fox Prairie Golf Course at 1 p.m. in Windsor, while the Teutopolis Lady Shoes host St. Thomas More at Cardinal Golf Course at 4 p.m.
Flaming Hearts' flexibility a plus; Effingham prepping for upcoming soccer season
Three days into the practice season, Effingham soccer coach Aaron Witges sees a lot of flexibility.
It was something his squad had last year, with 10 seniors but young players forcing their way into the lineup as well.
Coming off a 10-8-3 season, some of those young players will find themselves in new positions for the Flaming Hearts this season.
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- Illini coach Groce stops in Effingham; Speech focuses on team building