Seventeen years ago,
Buckner was a young, aspiring head coach who, like Jackson did on Monday in Atlanta, interviewed with general manager
In part because Buckner is one of only three players to win championships at the high school, college, Olympic and professional levels (
The result was not good. As he learned on the job, Buckner struggled to find the right balance between task-master and former player. The Mavericks got off to a 1-23 start and finished their tumultuous 1993-94 season at 13-69. Buckner was fired after that season.
Now, as Sund looks to replace
Sund has whittled his candidates to Dallas assistant coach
"I think the critical issue is to get a very good staff," said Buckner, a Pacers broadcaster. "There is no question about Mark's understanding of the game of basketball. But there is a difference between knowing the game and coaching the game.
"There are a lot of things you have to manage. You have to manage personalities. As a player, you tend to get along with everybody. As a coach, that doesn't always happen because you are managing people's minutes. The other part is to understand the involvement from your assistant coaching staff, and that is one part that will be new.
"Then the other half is management and ownership has to be 100 percent on board. Everybody has to be 100 percent on board. I underestimated it, quite frankly."
"I couldn't find Jimmy Rodgers because [Bulls general manager]
The difficulty in the NBA, Buckner acknowledged, is that virtually everybody who is on somebody's bench wants to be the head coach and so they are invariably scheming for the coach's job rather than helping him become better.
That's why, Buckner said, Jackson will need a few older assistants who are past the point of individual aspirations and only want to be part of a winning organization.
"I may be wrong because it has not worked out, but when
But, as Boston coach
"If he takes these things into consideration and puts them in the proper perspective, he can be successful," Buckner said. "Doc has done an exceptional job. He had never coached. There are people who can do that. He stepped out of the [broadcast] booth and stepped onto the bench.
"But it depends on where you go and what your expectations are. You have to manage expectations. And you have to do it with a real knack and tact and savvy. That is the difference between Doc three or four years ago and Doc today; now he is one of the great communicators. Of course, he also has a lot more talent on his roster right now, so that tends to make you a better coach."