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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
Dan Marcin is a basketball columnist for Obscure Athletes
I’m sure I speak for the majority of NBA fans when I profess my underwhelmed surprise at Kevin McHale being selected as
the new coach of the Houston Rockets. As good a player as McHale was during his playing days with the Boston Celtics, he doesn’t exactly bring an Auerbach-like coaching resume to an already mediocre team. By signing a three year deal, he dooms this Rockets franchise and its once passionate fanbase (prone to such creative proclivities as rewording a billboard ‘Akeem, I saw, I conquered’ during the 1986 finals) to about a thousand days of stunningly mediocre basketball.
In his Celtics days, McHale had a definite player profile. He was your prototypical finesse power forward, electing to use sly post moves to out manuever an opponent and drop the ball in the bucket with a nifty up an under while the defender went looking for his PF Flyers, rather than relying on raw aggression and athleticism to overpower and punish an opponent above the rim. His coaching profile, however, was decidedly undefined. He coached the Minnesota Timberwolves on two separate occasions, coaching a total of 94 games and missing the playoffs both times. During the 2004-2005 NBA season he replaced Flip Saunders ( who had gone 25-26 when McHale superseded him) and, orchestrating the last 31 games, amassed a 19-12 record, during which he found himself in the middle of a five game winning streak that was Windexed by a 107-98 Pheonix Suns victory on April 1st, 2005.
His second stint was, by all accounts, as exhaustively underwhelming as his fist. With the 2008-2009 season already underway, McHale was brought in again to breath some life into the stagnant Timberwolves, who, under then coach Randy Whittman had started out a putrid 4-15. Coach McHale took proverbial clipboard in hand and thundered to a resoundingly awful 20-43 record, helping the hapless ‘Wolves rank near last in the ratings both offensively (24th) and defensively (25th). Did the Rockets’ basketball executives even manage a glimpse at one of many easily accessible websites that contain this information to review his coaching record? What about this dreadful resume screams, “Hire me!”? Does the Houston staff expect Coach McHale to be the architect of a miraculous turnaround in fortune for the Rockets? I’m going to throw a guess out there and assume that the answer to all three of these questions is a resounding ‘no’. It looks like three years of Kevin McHale-helmed Houston Rockets will be more Challenger than Skylab 2.