By Rob Mahoney
The archetype of the disciplinarian basketball coach has been flipped on its head after ESPN's Outside the Lines broadcast video Tuesday of Rutgers coach Mike Rice berating, insulting and assaulting his players in practice.
The video was reportedly the grounds for a three-game suspension and $50,000 fine that Rice received from Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti in December, but public backlash and outrage from the video's release resulted in Rice's long-overdue firing on Wednesday. Why such action was not taken immediately is beyond me, and, judging by their responses via Twitter and various interviews, was also beyond many NBA players.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry both took decidedly paternal perspectives with regard to the controversy. They didn't take kindly to the notion of their sons potentially being pelted with basketballs as collegiate athletes:
“I mean, it was just despicable,” Allen said. “Not only as a parent, but I think about where I went, the places I’ve gone in my career, my parents kind of lent me to all these other people. I’ve been raised not only by Mom and Dad, but by several coaches, AAU coaches, high school coaches and then my college coach, and all of them had a hand in getting me to who I am today. And not to mention the teachers that I grew up under, learning, so we trust in the people we lend our kids off to, to help them grow. And I only hope when I let my kids go, there’s somebody watching them and growing and making sure they do that.”
“What I’ve seen in that video was despicable. It made me want to fight, it made me want to fight this guy, watching him throw the ball at those players. Because that’s me, wanting to learn, you make mistakes, you’re not doing it on purpose, you’re trying to learn. And that’s what coaches should do, you teach. Yelling at kids and throwing balls at them, there’s no place for that.”
David West laid out the situation in exceedingly clear -- and accurate -- terms, using the headline from Gregg Doyel's column for CBSSports.com: