In 2002, the Sacramento Kings controversially missed the NBA Finals. They were one game away from what would’ve been the Kings’ first Finals appearance and, potentially, championship in their history. The team went 61-21 and featured the likes of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and Mike Bibby. Sacramento took the NBA by storm and the cowbells that rang throughout ARCO Arena were as noisy as they’ve ever been.
Since that moment, however, success has been hard to find and coaches have moved in and out. It was a lottery team that never seemed like they’d make it over the hump. From Rudy Gay, to Tyreke Evans, to DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento perpetually possessed what looked like pieces that could bring them back to prominence.
But they couldn’t seem to cultivate and harness talent or get the right personalities to mesh in order to see the team flourish. Cousins, for example, was constantly at the center of an organization in turmoil and had to endure seven coaching changes in his eight season stint with the Kings.
Cousin’s last coach before his trade, Dave Joerger, didn’t seem to steer him in the wrong direction. Cousins actually expressed interest in staying as Joerger and company were trying to re-tool and re-shape the Kings from the ground up. However, Cousins would end up being shipped off before he even really knew what had happened.
Joerger, Sacramento’s second-year coach, has not only seen his best player get traded before he could see out his first season, but he was thrown into the fire after coming from a seemingly stable, less-hostile environment in Memphis. With Joerger comes years of experience — his basketball roots come from his father, Joe Joerger, with whom he used to watch game film with as a child. It was there that he would fall in love with coaching, while his father was coaching basketball and teaching him the game.
“I used to go to coaching clinics, watch VHS tapes of different coaches, and it was just easy because my dad was a coach,” Joerger told DIME. “Basketball has just always been at my house.”
From there, Joerger would play college basketball at Concordia College and Moorhead State, and shortly after his playing career he would take on positions in the midwest for the Dakota Wizards and Sioux Falls Skyforce. Spanning his time in the International Basketball Association, the Continental Basketball Association, and what is now known as the NBA G League, Joerger won titles in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007.