If the 200 basketball hopefuls at the NBA D-League's national tryout this past Sunday were looking for any additional motivation, guidance, and/or direction heading into the day's competition, they were able to find it rather quickly.
Following an eye-opening speech by Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel Chris Alpert (who started off by preaching that 30% of the NBA's players have D-League experience), Los Angeles D-Fenders head coach Bob MacKinnon stepped up to the plate.
MacKinnon is a role model who epitomizes what the minor league is all about, and can preach and understand all too well what the development of such prospects really means for the league, as well as the individuals themselves.
The veteran coach, who guided the Colorado 14ers to a D-League title in 2009, acts as the Program Director for the national tryout (and not to mention, the league's Elite Mini-Camp that took place last month as well).
As fate would have it, MacKinnon is quite the man for the job. He knows just how to motivate such young guns by putting things into prospective and subsequently allowing them to realize how special an experience really is. What was his message to the D-League hopefuls?
Don't over complicate things, or as Coach simply put it, "DO WHAT YOU DO!" MacKinnon encouraged the youngsters to play proper defense, share the ball, get to know their teammates, but most importantly, stay level-headed as well. It's one thing to be a skillful player, but if a player had a bad attitude, it was clear that such a negative demeanor would take precedent over anything and everything else, obviously for the worse. There was to be no arguing with the referees, MacKinnon instructed.
MacKinnon has been around the minor league block quite a few times now, and knows the ins and outs better than anyone else. Highly regarded as an offensive guru, he's one of the best at putting players in the ideal positions to succeed, largely in part because he knows what to say and do in order to ensure the prospects are playing at their highest level possible. He gets the most out of them.
Because of that, MacKinnon is the perfect choice to help set the tone for a large group of youngsters hoping to impress. His speech provided all of them with a cheat-sheet, should they have chosen to listen.
Hearing MacKinnon preach the good word of the D-League and opportunity at hand, it's anyone's guess as to why he isn't coaching on the NBA level already. With so many youngsters gunning for stardom and heading to The Association early on, the veteran coach appears to be someone who could aid the maturation of these players in a number of different ways.
Having said that, the NBADL is lucky to have him, and all of the prospects he'll continue to coach going forward will be all the better from the experience.