If you follow the Timberwolves at all, then you know that former coach Dwayne Casey got a raw deal. We are all aware that “good ole boy” networks exist, and you may find it surprising that I am not completely against it. In the African American community we have our own version of the “good ole boy” network, it’s called “the hook up.”
Many of the jobs that I have gotten in my life were due to knowing someone. Once I have my foot in the door, I generally start sending smoke signals to the good people I know who also might fit well with that type of job…whether there is a referral bonus or not. Occasionally we might overextend ourselves with that “hook up” or see that person’s capabilities and commitment through rose-colored glasses. But there is nothing wrong with wanting to give someone an opportunity…just be careful if you know of past crack use.
Kevin McHale gave his friend Randy Wittman an opportunity to coach the Timberwolves. Eventually, owner Glenn Taylor had to realize that the Randy Wittman led Timberwolves were stuck in neutral (at best), and thus McHale needed to step down from management and take over after Wittman’s dismissal. McHale didn’t necessarily do a bad job as a coach, and if he had a real passion for coaching a very young team, then I would be fine with him continuing as the coach.
Before Wittman there was Dwayne Casey. I had the opportunity to sit with Coach Casey in the barbershop (shout out to Fades of Gray in Uptown), and I’d be hard pressed to find a person with a more qualified resume and demeanor to lead an NBA team. As a former athlete, I can say that he was the type of coach that you want because you know you’ll develop as an athlete under his direction.
Kevin Garnett was the center of the Timberwolves’ universe during his time here. When asey took over the team he stepped right into a mess with concern to that universe. Garnett felt his championship opportunities slipping and didn’t want to listen to a rookie coach trying to coach up a bunch of young players. Casey inherited this offering of young players, disgruntled superstar, and no help from management, and still managed to coach the team to its maximum potential. Garnett was traded during Casey’s tenure, and Casey still managed to keep the team at a level of respectability.
The next season, Casey got the boot early on, even though the team was still performing to its maximum potential. Wittman came in and did much worse, but was still given the chance to continue through this season. Once the team reached its dismal pinnacle midway through this season, Wittman was finally sent packing. McHale stepped in and brought the team back to the level that Casey had achieved before. That is until he had his star player (Al Jefferson) swept away from him due to injury.
So just the same as it would be fair to bring back McHale as the head coach, it would be equally, if not more fair, to bring back Casey. White coaches get these opportunities to return back to coaching after a difficult first run at it. I am certainly left at a loss to think of a black coach given the same chance.
Adored by many in the local media, you are impossibly pressed to find a person to say a bad word about Coach Casey, or his basketball acumen.
The Timberwolves have an improved, athletic, and more cohesive roster now. Casey’s system of coaching would blend well with the current roster of players, and through bringing him back the Wolves would be able to kill two birds with one stone. The first bird is called ‘selecting the right coach for the current roster’. The second bird is called ‘Do the right thing’.