Not too long ago a former Portland Trail Blazer made headlines down in Memphis. You might have heard about it. It was somewhat controversial. But on Wednesday night when the Memphis Grizzlies take the floor at the Rose Garden no one will probably be looking at “that” man – or should I say “that” head coach.
All eyes will be on Darius Miles. Instead, they should be on his head coach.
When Lionel Hollins was named the 11th head coach in franchise history for the Grizzlies back on January 25, this former assistant with Memphis caught some flack. Major flack.
Not only was he returning to the sidelines for the Grizzlies – after posting a combined 18-44 in two prior stints – but some who cover the league didn’t even think Hollins – who was serving as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks this season - should have received the job in the first place.
With all the former head coaches looking for work, why Hollins? Is he just another short term solution? If that is the case, at least he’s getting the most out of team right now. Memphis is 4-6 since Hollins took over as head coach of the team. Not horrible for the Grizzlies who lost 12-straight before turning to grab four wins under Hollins.
On Wednesday night, you won’t have to be a Grizzlies fan to cheer Hollins in Portland. You just have to know something about how he helped bring a championship ring to Rip City.
Selected sixth overall in the first round of the 1975 NBA Draft by the Blazers, Hollins (sitting dead center in the above photo) earned a spot on the 1976 All-Rookie First Team and won an NBA Championship as a starter for the Trail Blazers in 1977, where he was a teammate of current Grizzlies assistant coach Johnny Davis (sitting second in on the left).
The next year, Hollins was an NBA All-Star who also named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team. In over 673 career games, he averaged 11.6 points, 4.5 assists and 1.56 steals with Portland, Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers, Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets.
His number 14 hangs respectively from the Rose Garden rafters.
But Hollins and Davis aren’t the only former Blazers in Memphis. Hollins recently added Damon Stoudamire to his coaching staff. Stoudamire played with the Grizzlies from 2005 to 2008 and is now in his first NBA coaching position after serving as director of player development at Rice since December.
So let’s not make Wednesday night about Darius Miles’ return to Portland or the beef between Memphis and Portland’s front office. Why even go there?
Make this about Hollins. Make this about Davis.
Make this about Portland revisiting their lone championship season and the launch of Blazermania into the NBA vernacular.
pic via: pro.corbis