In a recent Q&A with David Aldridge of NBA.com, Hibbert talked about the trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers, and why he’s specifically excited to play for Byron Scott.
And I wanted to play for a coach who actually played in the league if I had my own choice. Not to say that Frank [Vogel] wasn’t great. I had some real good times with Frank and we played well. But I told my agent that I possibly wanted to play for a coach that played in the league.
The reason why this isn’t a total bridge-burning is because of Hibbert’s reasoning. It has nothing to do with X’s and O’s (and, if it did, he’ll soon learn that Vogel is in a completely different class than Scott), but rather the shared experiences of a former and current player.
Just playing for [Brian] Shaw (the Pacers’ former associate head coach under Vogel), he went through the things that a player has gone through. He had a lot of real good insight to help myself, my game, with other guys on the court. Because he went through those things.
Hibbert using Shaw as his specific example is interesting, considering Shaw’s complete failure to relate to his players in Denver as the head coach is what led to his firing. Nonetheless, Hibbert’s stance is fairly understandable. It’s hard to relate to someone who hasn’t gone through the exact same rigors and trials. Certainly, Vogel could sympathize with Hibbert’s struggles, but maybe not empathize.
Then again, not every coach who once played in the NBA is built the same. Sometimes, a former player can be just as much of a hard ass as someone who never played in the NBA, and sometimes the coach who rose in the ranks from the video room can be more understanding than the coach who has been through everything his team has. Scott certainly didn’t sport a great relationship with some of his players last season – most notably, Nick Young.
One reason Shaw was able to ostensibly be the “good guy” in Indiana is because he was an assistant. He didn’t have to be as “hard” as Vogel. Scott, as the head coach, may not be as relatable and empathetic as Hibbert hopes. If Scott and Hibbert don’t mesh as Hibbert hopes, he might change his tune about playing for a former player.