After leading the Colorado 14ers to an NBA D-League championship in 2009, Bob MacKinnon's coaching career in the minor league continued to poster. He proved himself to be quite the innovator on the offensive end during stints with the Springfield Armor and Los Angeles D-Fenders, and furthermore, continued to earn the respect of his peers and aspiring players alike while serving as director of both the league's offseason Elite Mini-Camp in Chicago and national tryout in New York City.
Despite such success, the veteran coach found himself without a job prior to the start of the season. Nevertheless, the minor league understands and appreciates the dedication and innovation he has shown over the years. Deservedly so, Coach MacKinnon will return as director for both offseason events.
"I've actually run the elite camp each year it's been in existence. I was honored to do it again, and they've also asked me to run the national tryout in June. I'm honored that they think enough of me to bring me back and give me an opportunity to do those things for the D-League," Coach MacKinnon said during a conversation with RidiculousUpside.com.
"This is always a great group to work with," the coach said of those involved with the minor league's respective events. "The one great thing about the D-League is that it's all about the players. I think the elite camp is one of the best things that the league does. It gives our players an opportunity to be seen. I'd say I've seen about 95% of the players who participate in the elite camp go on to participate in Summer League with an NBA team that coming summer."
Though the most recent D-League season just came to a close, the camp will feature approximately forty of the league's more promising players competing on an unique stage. For Coach MacKinnon, the objective is clear.
"This is a chance to get these players another look in front of NBA scouts, European scouts, and other people like that. We do it right before the two [NBA Draft] camps, so that we ensure NBA people have the chance to attend. As they get those last looks and are doing their draft prep, these NBA squads are also putting their Summer League teams together," the coach explained.
Ever the motivator, Coach MacKinnon knows how he'll begin to inspire this year's crop of respective D-League talents.
"My message to them is very simple. I tell them all to do three things. First is, do what you do. If you're a big, go rebound the ball. If you're a guard who likes to facilitate for other people, then do that and find them open shots. The NBA people who are looking to stock their Summer League teams aren't necessarily looking for guys who can score. They're looking for guys who can help make their Summer League teams successful. These guys can potentially move on to their respective team's training camp," he asserted.
"Second thing is that we obviously want them to play hard. The third thing is showing that you're a good teammate. If they do those three things, the NBA people will take notice of that. Then they're likely to go on and play in Summer League. This is a process. It starts at the elite camp, moves on to Summer League, and then hopefully goes into training camp. That's where these guys will proceed to prove they're an eleventh to fifteenth man, all the way to later on signing that multi-year contract," Coach MacKinnon optimistically conveyed.
The journey ahead will undoubtedly be an intense one of sorts, but luckily for these young athletes on the rise, they'll have Coach MacKinnon guiding them through it to start things off.
This will be MacKinnon's sixth year running both events. The camp begins next Monday.