When NBA players decide to hang it up and retire, they either start living private or decide to stay around basketball as a coach. Jason Kidd, current head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks is who I would deem a successful transition from NBA player to coach. He can be an inspiration to former NBA players who want to start off their coaching skills. However, the NBA is a tougher place to start out if you were not a standout name. In comes the D-League.
On Sunday August 14th, he NBADL held their national tryouts in New York. Although a lot of the attention was on the players participating, some former NBA players used the event to jump start their coaching careers. Following the tryout, sources close to Ridiculous Upside gave the site a list of former NBA players that participated as coaches at the NBADL tryout. We take a look at some of the biggest names that were there.
As a 4-time NBA All-Star, Vin Baker knows a thing or two about basketball. That experience helped him make a transition to the coaching ranks, as he was hired an assistant basketball coach for St. Bernard School in 2011. Although that doesn't seem like much, Baker can definitely be a great mentor D-Leaguers. During his NBA career, Baker was a victim of substance abuse which ultimately cut short his career. After turning his life around, Baker has been an example of an NBA player who overcame huge obstacles. With the past behind him, Baker can use his story to help keep players with NBA aspirations stay focused and away from a multitude of vices. Using coaches with not so squeaky clean backgrounds helps balance the field because it shows that even the ones who fell from grace can bounce back stronger and become a mentor for future prospects who could have battled the same situations.
Former NCAA champion (Michigan) Charlie Bell took his hand at coaching in the D-League Tryouts on Sunday. Bell has dibbled and dabbled in both the NBA and international realms of basketball, which could help him out as a D-League coach. Bell is an awesome candidate for players who have either played overseas, or trying to make the transition from the collegiate game. . Playing for multiple teams and countries does have its perks, as those players can impart valuable wisdom on various topics, from different styles of basketball to how to adjust to lives as a pro player.
Playing alongside the great Michael Jordan at UNC, Perkins helped deliver the Tarheels a 1982 NCAA championship. Playing on four NBA teams and representing the USA in the 1984 Olympics, Perkins has knowledge of both the NBA and international game. Perkins is the perfect mentor for players who want to one day play for the big league because of his deep resume as a player.
Walker Russell Jr.
Although undrafted, Russell Jr. found success in the D-League, becoming a 3 time all star in 2009, 2011, and 2012. Alongside that, he led Leones de Santo Domingo to an LNB (Liga Nacional de Baloncesto) champion in 2011. Over the course of his length career, Russell has played for three separate NBADL organizations (Fort Worth Mad Ants, Reno Bighorns, and the Westchester Knicks). With his veteran experience, Russell Jr. can be a great mentor to D-League prospects as he knows the day-by-day of being an NBADL player.
Whether you're a former NBA player or young coach, the NBA D-League can be a great step for folks that eventually want to coach in the NBA. As you can see in the list below, a wide variety of current NBA assistant or head coaches got their start in the NBADL. Although the pay in the D-League is not at the level of the NBA, the mere fact that there every NBADL team has an NBA relationship, makes that experience worth while for any aspiring coach. Think of it as an unpaid internship, you get no pay, but you gain a lot of experience for the job that this internship is preparing you for. It is the same concept for the D-League.
The D-League is a great starting point for former players who want to get their feet wet all while still being connected to an NBA team. Granted, it might take a while to enter into the big leagues, but it definitely gives them a chance show what they have to offer and with success, could potentially start an NBADL and NBA pipeline in the years to come.