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Kevin Considers: Do Coaches Matter?

By Kevin Lessard
On April 13, 2012



LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Three of the NBA's best at their position. All 3 have to listen to Erik Spoelstra when it comes down crunch time, call a late game play to run when the team needs a go-ahead bucket. But answer me this, in practices, drills, and off days, what are these three players going to learn from a 40 year-old guy who's never played a game in the NBA?

LeBron James has worked with trainers to increase his strength and agility, but is Spoelstra teaching them that. Has he helped his rebounding? What about his mid-range jump-shot? I'm going to guess that he hasn't. So why don't teams have more player head-coaches?

Bill Russell, the former Boston Celtic, won nine NBA championships under coach Red Auerbach. Once Auerbach retired, Russell stepped up and went on to win 2 more championships as a player coach, two years in a row, before he retired. It seemed to work out just fine for the Celtics.

It may not be the same case in all sports. In baseball however, it's different titles. MLB has a "manager" and "hitting and pitching coaches." The manager chooses line-ups, decides which pitchers to bring in and when to take them out. The Cardinals have one of the game's greatest hitters of all-time, Mark McGuire, as their hitting coach. This is a guy who, steroids aside, knows how to face pitchers, what a sweet swing looks like, and how to make adjustments in hitting stances. He's been there, and he knows what he is doing because he's done it himself. Could Mike Brown of the Lakers show Kobe how to guard someone in the post? I highly doubt it.

Football is a special case, also. Yes, Peyton Manning has no more learning to do from any coach, and John Fox won't be needing to show Manning anything new, besides the play book. But football has specialized position coaches like baseball. Patriots Defensive Lineman coach Pepper Johnson played in the NFL for quite some time, and has done well in showing guys like Vince Wilfork a thing or two about their position.

I'm by no means trying to undermine what a coach does.  The coaches here on campus do a great job.  At the collegiate level, every player in every sport still has learning and developing to do.  They are here to teach the team how to better themselves as a player.  Anyone that is not playing at the professional level, obviously has some more improving to do, so I can completely understand the point of a coach for a non-professional team.

So what is the point of a head coach? When it comes down to it, can't teams get by with listening to their captain? The guy who they all voted for as the leader of their team, why can't he call the shots? He's getting paid 200 million dollars; why not get your money's worth out of him? It's something that I would consider as a general manager or a head coach.

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