In addition to maxing out our credit cards to pay for a ticket and emptying our bank accounts to buy a hot dog and beer, we sports fans have to suffer one more insult when we go to a game: accepting that athletes live in a world of make believe. Astronomical salaries, a more lenient relationship with the legal system, and the right to wear sweatpants in public wherever they damn well please are all parts of the rule book in the world of being a sports superstar.
In return, we fans get to watch pituitary cases who give us something to do with our guy friends for a few hours other than talking about our feelings. Fine. Game on. Because superstars usually have the superegos to match, I’ve always felt that the average guy could relate to the coach. They aren’t blessed with special physical attributes. They put in long hours, deal with a bunch of babies at work, and get blamed for everything that goes wrong. However, it now appears that even coaches are getting some of the perks of the make-believe world that athletes inhabit. Earlier this season, the New Jersey Nets fi red their franchise’s most successful coach, Byron Scott. The Nets got rid of a guy who led the team to two consecutive NBA finals appearances and a first place record this year.
The man filling Scott’s shoes is one Lawrence Frank, who brings to the table-no head coaching experience. Not in the pros. Not in college. In fact, Frank didn’t even make his high school hoops team. Seems like the closest he’s ever been to a basketball court is when he was a glorified equipment manager at Indiana University under Bobby Knight.
After this move, it appears that the only thing separating Joe Shlub from an NBA head-coaching job is a decent internship.
This seems like a terrible personnel move until you consider that heading into the All- Star weekend, Frank tied an NBA record for most consecutive wins as a new head coach by winning his first nine out of the box. The move brings to mind the Boston Red Sox’s hiring of 28-year old Theo Epstein as general manager last year. At the time, Epstein was given reins of the venerable franchise having zero relevant experience, and in return causing every guy just out of college to fret over what he would be doing in five years. In his first season, Epstein was a total success, negotiating free agents away from the hated Yankees like a seasoned vet, and bringing the Sox to within five outs of their first World Series in 17 years.
So all of this means one of two things. Either people like Frank and Epstein are management wunderkinds, or that crap about “paying your dues” is a crock of Boston baked beans. I’m guessing it’s the latter, and we’ll be seeing more sports management jobs given to those with absolutely no credentials whatsoever. I suppose that makes that guy in the Oval Office and former owner of the Texas Rangers something of a pioneer.