Kelvin Sampson has resuscitated his coaching career far faster than Indiana has rebuilt the storied basketball program he torpedoed.
Handed a five-year show cause penalty in 2008 for making hundreds of impermissible phone calls to recruits at Indiana and Oklahoma, Sampson landed on his feet by taking an assistant coaching gig with the Milwaukee Bucks. His leadership and defensive-minded approach have impressed NBA executives enough that Sampson is one of the two leading candidates for the just-vacated Detroit Pistons job, Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday .
Granted the Detroit opening is certainly one of the NBA's least attractive since the Pistons are coming off back-to-back 50-loss seasons and are weighed down by bad contracts, but Indiana fans still must have misgivings about Sampson being mentioned as a candidate. After all, the once-proud Hoosiers are 28-66 in the three seasons since Sampon's phone call scandal cratered the program.
Sampson's disregard for NCAA rules would probably prevent most college athletic directors from even considering offering him another chance, but it's no surprise NBA executives are intrigued.
NBA coaches are hired on their X's-and-O's prowess and their ability to motivate, two areas that Sampson has always excelled. Plus, coaches have done far worse than make excessive phone calls and been punished far less harshly.
Nonetheless, it is amazing that the Indiana scandal in some ways could turn out to be an actual career boost for Sampson.
The list of former college coaches to earn a crack at an NBA job includes such luminaries as Larry Brown, Rick Pitino and Mike Montgomery. Whether it's in Detroit or elsewhere down the road, it appears Sampson may soon also have that chance.
- Detroit Pistons
- Kelvin Sampson