It’s not a good choice. It’s not a bad one. It could be either or both depending on your point of view years from now. So for better or worse, it appears the Charlotte Bobcats, in their final season under that name, have settled on a new head coach according to many media reports today.
His name is Steve Clifford and the one sure fire thing fans in the Queen City know about him is that he has never held the top job for an NBA team. If that has a familiar ring to it you have to only go back just one year when they hired Mike Dunlap with the same experience and everyone knows how that turned out.
Sam Vincent was another rookie head coach, but at least he can boast he has the second highest winning percentage (.390) in the second version of Charlotte hoops. He was 32-50 after taking over for Bernie Bickerstaff.
Clifford will reportedly get a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $6 million and would like to be around when the buzz returns a year from now when the team is re-christened the Charlotte Hornets. He has little shoes to fill. After all, the only franchise legend is the owner and the jury is still out what kind of executive he is.
Maybe it was expected that with the name change coming, the Bobcats would go out and make another splash by hiring some big name head coach with a résumé to match. There are few of them around and even if one was available, wanted the job and was hired, the price tag would have been a lot more than $2 million per.
Michael Jordan and his staff did a marvelous job of plucking someone out of the Land of Everlasting Assistants to make him the organization’s sixth head coach. He has worked with and for winners including both Van Gundy brothers, Stan and Jeff, and most recently next to the Lakers’ Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni in that team’s tumultuous season. You learn from success and yes, even adversity and he has seen his share of it.
Better yet, he is the kind of man that has been respected at each of his stops, from players to colleagues and that will go a long way if the soon-to-be Hornets are to become as relevant as the first generation team that now calls New Orleans home.
Fans, in all likelihood, will flood the airwaves with the usual “Cliff Who?” questions and why Jordan didn’t go with a brand name. But at the end of the day he may very well be the right person for the right job at the right time as the Bobcats/Hornets go for the new identity they so desperately seek.
In the upcoming draft Charlotte has the No. 4 pick which could be a gem depending on how the first three selections pan out. General manager Rich Cho indicated the night of the Draft Lottery the team has plenty of options and now they have one more experienced voice to add to any decision to keep pick, trade up or down.