Coach Sleepy is gone. He's not walking through that door. Not sober, at least. Meanwhile, Daryl Morey and the Rockets continue to search for their next head coach. Matter of fact, I think our boy genius GM is in Hollywood interviewing Whoopie Goldberg for the position today - hey, she was in that Eddie movie, right? If you can get the Knicks to win anything that has to be recognized. Personally, I think we've already found our candidate. Along those lines, here are a few factors I am personally looking for in the next coach:
B. No former ballboys or equipment managers or video guys. Yes, I know Erik Spoelstra is a fine coach and he's managed to not slap LeBron across the face for being the bitch he is, but... those kinds of coaches tend to get no respect from NBA professionals. It will catch up to Mr. Spoelstra soon enough.
C. No one too young or too old. Rick Adelman was fine and all, but he was at the twilight of his career when we hired him. If he was ever going to win a ring it would have been with Portland or Sacramento. On the flip side, unlike the NFL where guys like Mike Tomlin can come in and win while still being younger than some of the players he is coaching, the NBA typically does not work that way. I want to find a coach in his early to late-40s who is primed to take over and win NOW.
D. We're looking for the next Phil Jackson. Not the next Del Harris.
Also, we should remember that Phil has not learned from his parents. He never accepted the concept of sharing. Do you realize that 11 of the last 20 championship rings belong to Phil Jackson? The only active coaches with rings are Phil, Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers. Larry Brown and Pat Riley are technically retired and Rudy T is off scouting for the Lakers and drinking heavily with Pau Gasol. That's it. That's the list.
Accordingly, I want a coach that will bring the Rockets into the next generation of the NBA - someone with heart and fire and a connection to the Rockets' glory of old. Someone like...
That's right. The Kiss of M--ther F--kin' Death.
Normally I'd say "hire Robert Horry!!" (of course), but even I recognize that Mr. Horry had little use for the regular season. It's not exactly a trait that would be conducive to being a successful NBA head coach.
That leaves Mario Elie.
And this is not even a joke. Elie is more than qualified to be a head coach right now. He has been an assistant coach with Golden State and Sacramento. We all know how much of a badass Monta Ellis is as a player, right? Well....... Mario Elie was the guy who took the raw 19 year old kid and turned him into an offensive dynamo. Elie taught him the ropes, how to play the NBA game and how to be a professional. While Golden State and Sacramento haven't exactly won a ton of basketball games, that's not something you can blame on Elie. (Both of those franchises have been wrecked by bad management and no one really argues this point.)
Elie has legitimate credibiilty.
He was never a glory boy NBA player. He was not even drafted out of college. He earned his way into the NBA on grit and determination. He's exactly the kind of grinder that a roster of NBA players will not only respect but be able to relate to. He can look someone like Yao Ming in the face (okay, maybe not literally) and carry the same legitimacy as he would with a roster clinger like Marcus Cousin.
Let us also not forget that Elie and Les Alexander go wayyyy back. When Les first purchased the Rockets in 1993, he promised a "major acquisition" shortly thereafter. The masses eagerly awaited a trade for an NBA Superstar™ to pair with Hakeem and Otis and Horry and Kenny. Instead... Les threw everyone a curve-ball and traded for Mario Elie. While everyone was confused at the time, it turned out that Les may have known what he was doing. Because........this happened:
Then this happened:
Mario Elie (along with Sam Cassell) brought Houston its first major sports championship in their very first season with the franchise. In short, Mario is a winner. (Suck on that, Charlie Sheen.) Even when he left the Rockets....... Elie just went to San Antonio and collected yet another ring. He's a pro's pro and a champion. This is exactly the kind of presence we need on the sideline. And since we are kinda sorta on the subject, I know Sam Cassell interviwed for the Head Coach position as well, but I don't think he's quite ready. But why not put him on Mario's staff? No reason not to.
I vote for a Mario/Sam ticket in 2011-2012. Who's with me?