Well #FlightNation…it’s my last blog of the China tour, but it won’t be my last blog. I remembered I used to blog a lot when I was with the East Kentucky Miners of the CBA. It actually had a lot of readers, and I was reminded, during this trip, how much people enjoy getting somewhat of a behind the scenes view. I’ll definitely keep the blog up.
Anyway, about the tour. It was grueling, fun, tiresome, exciting, disappointing, life-changing, eye opening…it was really everything one could imagine. I know I’m returning home a better coach. Everything is read, heard and guessed about basketball in another country was validated this trip, and now when I speak, it’s not from a place of research, but pure experience.
What I’ve verified:
Winning is everything.Evaluation is definitely about numbers, but ALSO performance. If you are a player unable, unwilling and/or uninterested in playing real, system basketball that relies on IQ as much as athletic ability, quit trying to play international basketball abroad. You will not make it, and the powers that be will not have any interest in you. If you are a person who likes to go out a lot, you will also be sent home (at least that’s true in China). They want professionals, and people that indulge in excessive fun are shunned. If you are a short guard (6 feet or less), you have the Himalayan Mountains to climb to try and make it. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s next to impossible. American minor leagues are not at all respected. Why? Most leagues are too inconsistent, the stats are not accurate, there are way too many blow outs, games are not always competitive, and there’s a serious lack of proper coaching and system basketball that gets played. I’m very proud to say we represented well for the FBA. We REALLY needed to win more games, but the type of basketball that we played was professional basketball (Hey…it’s why we run triangle offense…reputation and credentials matter).
So that said…I’ve learned and validated so much. I’ll be a better coach and a better CEO of the FBA because if this experience. I came to China being known as a coach, but I left, having the right, important people knowing that I own and I’m leading the entire Florida Basketball Association. Apparently, they were impressed that I was doing all of this at my age (all the other coaches were much older than me). I’ve gotta be honest…that was dope to see and hear.
As for the team, I loved and hated coaching these guys. Now I know a small taste of what NBA coaches go through trying to build chemistry and unify egos. This as the most talented team I’ve ever coached. In the same manner, it was also the most difficult, and while most had been playing professionally in the USA for a while, most were also rookies to playing internationally.
The tough part was going to four 10 minute quarters instead of 12 minute quarters. We ended up with 13 on the roster, so trying to find enough playing time for everyone was next to impossible. Actually, it was impossible. There are several guys that I’m certain are very angry and upset with me. While that’s disappointing, being a former player myself, I can understand why. However, I stand by my coaching method to be a performance-based coach. I don’t do politics. If you perform well, you play. If I have a lot of trust in you as a player, your grace measure regarding the mistakes you make in games is longer. If I don’t (and this happened some on this tour), I can’t think about or put individual feelings and hopes of performance above my gut feelings of a player getting the job done.
At the end of the day, my job is to win games FIRST! Players go on tours to play and prove themselves with the hopes of getting a higher paying contract. If they aren’t playing much, that’s hard to do, but even if they are playing a lot, but we are losing…as our translator Mary would say…”Doesn’t matter!”
Despite how difficult it was to build the appropriate chemistry, I’ll remember these guys and this tour forever. I love these guys (even the ones mad at me), and if they don’t realize it already, they’ll know that their experiences in China on this tour will pave the way for future successes in basketball. I’m not sure what the percentage is, but if all the players in the world, a very, very small number of them get to experience what we just did. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
What’s great is 6 of us from this tour will be going right back to Shanghai in August for the $100,000 USD Jump 10 tournament. China won’t be new to us, so we’ll be far more comfortable than most other teams traveling in (there are 16 teams from 12 different countries participating).
As I think about it, I’ll have a lot more to write about this tour. I want to talk about the fan experience and the Chinese passion for basketball. I want to share more of our day to day cultural experiences. I also want some of the guys to write about their own personal experiences, too. That will need to be for another day though. It’s time to get in the plane and head home.
It’s been real China, but I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL!!!! And to my wife and kids, I’m going to hug you tighter than ever before. Let’s have some crazy Daddy fun. Love you all!!!
Until next time…