It isn’t common for a player to retire and immediately land a job as a coach, as Jason Kidd did. Typically they take some time to enjoy the luxuries of retirement until they realize that coaching may somehow fulfill that hole left in their heart that opened after they left the game. The standard for a player to become a coach is usually some experience on the sidelines, years of waiting for an opportunity and a clean record.
Rasheed Wallace just received an assistant coaching position with the Detroit Pistons. Wallace was known as a bit of a zany character in the NBA, crazy, if you will. But it isn’t all that surprising the Pistons would hire him. Wallace played with the Pistons for five-and-a-half seasons and the franchise is looking to regain its success they had when he was on the team. Wallace was one of the smartest players in the NBA. You could find him on the bench constantly making suggestions and instructions on what a player did wrong.
The definition of crazy can explain the insanity or grand excitement of a person. The loose definition allows us to categorize an array of players that would fall into the “crazy” category, while providing solid merits for being a good coach. The mix will include both active and retired players who have essentially no coaching experience.
Here are five current or formers players some might deem crazy who would still make excellent coaches…
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5. CHARLES BARKLEY
Crazy: Attempted to spit on a heckler who had yelled racial slurs at him during the game but he missed and hit a young girl. They would become friends after the incident. He has had countless controversial rants, would go on the streets by himself during the Olympics and party with the locals, and he decided to fight Charles Oakley. The man tackled every issue at full speed.
Philosophy: Barkley seemingly switches his point of view on offense at his whim. He seems to love passing and a spread offense but will say that particular offense isn’t good enough to win in the playoffs. He stresses the need to have a perfectly balanced offense that attacks defensively, looking to create turnovers for quick transition points.
Ideally, Barkley would be a good coach for a veteran playoff team. I don’t think he would be the best at working with younger players because of his blunt attitude and tendency to contradict himself. Barkley has some great ideas that are quite insightful but typically it is muddled through his nonsensical rants.
Best fit: Miami Heat or Oklahoma City Thunder
4. METTA WORLD PEACE
Crazy: Well, his name used to be Ron Artest so you already have a pretty firm understanding of the bit of crazy that lives in World Peace. He would be one of the main culprits in the “Malice in the Palace” and threw a vicious elbow at James Harden last year. World Peace admitted to drinking Hennessy Cognac during halftime when he played for the Bulls and once asked coach Rick Carlisle for a month off after being tired from promoting an R&B album.
Philosophy: World Peace has always been known for his fantastic defense so it would be to the surprise of no one if he placed his emphasis on that side of the ball. It is tough to coach size and toughness but World Peace would probably focus on physicality, clogging the lanes to prevent easy baskets close to the hoop. Isolating defenders and forcing them to fight through picks would seem to fit his mindset.
Best Fit: Chicago Bulls or Indiana Pacers
3. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
Crazy: He was in a film called Kazaam, he is a legendary dancer, and he had some pretty good acting skills in Curb Your Enthusiasm. He’s been known to be a hilarious and goofy guy and has taken that personality to the TNT station.
Philosophy: O’Neal would definitely be adept at controlling the locker room with his humor and keeping things loose. The issue with O’Neal would be a propensity to allow rumors to squeak out of the locker room. He would work best in a smaller market, maybe something similar to Dwight Howard.
Emphasizing the center and pounding the boards would seem to be his greatest focus, considering that is how he played. O’Neal is a jokester but he is knowledgeable about the game and has great respect from a lot of the players in the NBA.
Best Fit: Houston Rockets (Oh, the irony)
2. KURT THOMAS
Crazy (eyes): Thomas is actually one of the more low-key guys in the league but his nickname is justifiably called “Crazy Eyes” and that is good enough to qualify him as crazy in our books. He also elicited a fan frenzy in a game the Knicks nearly won by 50.
Philosophy: Thomas deserves praise for his ability to take on the role of stoic locker room presence with the ability to calm rattled younger players. Sacramento’s former head coach Keith Smart pointed to Thomas as a prime example of how an NBA player should act off of the court.
He is as tough and selfless a player as you can find in the NBA so it would make sense to see him place an emphasis on a pass-happy team that emphasizes a big man and settles for an open jump shot if they can’t get anything close to the basket.
Intangibles and effort are two things that would not be lacking from Thomas’ team. The defensive intensity would be there throughout the game and players wouldn’t want to make a mistake because they would suffer the crazy eyes of Thomas.
Best fit: San Antonio Spurs
1. KEVIN GARNETT
Crazy: His validation is less so than some of the other players, but his insane, hyper competitive drive to win has made him do some questionable things. The “Honey Nut Cheerios” story occurred earlier this year in an on-court incident with Carmelo Anthony, involving ‘Melo’s wife, LaLa. Garnett developed routines in which he bangs his head against the basketball stanchion before games and is consistently known for blocking shots after the whistle is blown. I almost forgot: he is good at screaming to the basketball gods.
Philosophy: Garnett has been praised for his knowledge of the game and may be the smartest defensive mind in all of basketball. He is one of the best screeners in the NBA and knows the importance of each small step that happens on the basketball court. No possession is too small or insignificant for Garnett; he does not give away baskets. Doc Rivers has talked in depth about his relationship with Garnett and how important he has been to teaching players the defensive scheme while anchoring the unit himself.
The Celtics’ identity was transformed with the arrival of Garnett. They not only became a great team but one that actually became scary to play. It wouldn’t surprise me for Garnett to translate that same intensity to a coaching position where he would relay similar messages of defense and precise cuts. He has no sympathy for lethargic intensity and that would still be the case for the tight ship he would run.
Best fit: Sacramento Kings
Which “crazy” players would actually make good coaches?
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