Sometimes patience proves to be a virtue. It's something that's often preached, especially when it comes to the D-League. The lifestyle itself might not be the most glamorous, but such perseverence happens to pay off when the ultimate goal is eventually reached.
Someone with similar determination happens to be Phil Hubbard. A former NBA player of ten years, Coach Hubbard spent another twelve seasons in The Association as an assistant coach. Successfully helping his respective teams to seven playoff appearances, Hubbard's coaching success followed some time paying his dues as a scout.
It's safe to say the veteran's basketball resume is vast. He's as qualified to handle any type of role he wants as anyone out there. But much like players in the D-League happen to realize, sometimes being able to cash in on such success takes time, patience, and some extra determination along the way.
Hubbard's own respective journey has taken a similar path. He too, found himself in the D-League in 2011, going on to serve under the likes of Eric Musselman and Connor Henry with the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Three years later (following two seasons in Los Angeles and one in Santa Cruz), Hubbard has returned to the Lakers' affiliate as their new head coach.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to come back to Los Angeles. I've been an assistant here, and now I'm the head coach, Coach Hubbard recently told RidiculousUpside.com. "I think what I'm most looking forward to is getting a group of guys together and getting started. I'm excited to go through the draft, going to training camp, and then getting through our first practice."
The fact that Coach Hubbard is focused on team building from the start is a testament to how well he truly understands the D-League. But that doesn't mean there aren't challenges ahead. There's frequent player turnaround in basketball's minor league (even during the season), making a coach's role in keeping the team together and building unity all the more crucial to subsequent success.
"I think it's tough. Lots of times, you don't have the same returning guys. That's the nature of the D-League," Coach Hubbard said when asked about the difficulties of coaching in the D-League. "It's not the NBA. Guys get better, improve, and then move on. These guys are all looking for better opportunities, whether that means getting to the NBA or going overseas. It's tough that way, but you know, that's part of the league. We understand the ins and outs of it."
So with that said, what is the coach looking forward to most? "Being able to help young guys is something I really enjoy. I've been a part of the league a long time, and the grassroots of it is all about helping someone accomplish their goals," he added. "This is something I love doing, because I really enjoy watching guys advance."
Coach Hubbard is obviously someone with a wealth of experience from his time in the NBA, D-League, and even overseas. He's been a player and a coach. He understands what players go through, the challenges they face, and how to conquer them. He's a top notch individual, and as such, is someone up and coming players should be eager to learn from.
"I think these guys have to have patience and determination, because sometimes that break doesn't always come right away. When you come to the league, sometimes you think that call is going to come right away. You have to be patient," Coach Hubbard continued. "Eventually, you're going to get a shot. It just takes time. It takes longer for some guys than others. The D-League is a place where you really have to work hard, because you don't how long it'll take for you to get into the bigs. Patience is the big thing."
Of course, coaching in the D-League is not simply about mentoring those players on the outside looking in, but also aiding the development of those youngsters looking for more playing time with an NBA affiliate.
Forming such unity between the D-Fenders and Lakers, while building a relationship with new head coach Byron Scott, is an opportunity Coach Hubbard will value.
"I think this is going to be great. I think we're getting to the point where the D-League is becoming vital [for the Lakers], because they have a lot of young players. I think Coach Scott realizes that this is avenue to be explored where the players can come down to the D-League and get the minutes that otherwise aren't there," he added. "When they come back up, they'll be ready. It's going to be a good mix because these young guys can come down and play. Then they'll go back and contribute to the Lakers. I think Coach Scott understands what the D-League is about. That makes me feel good."
Needless to say, Hubbard is the ideal man for such a job. It may have taken him longer than expected to receive an opportunity, but it's one he'll likely thrive in moving forward.