December 06, 2011
When an NBA coach gets fired, he has several obvious options: become an assistant, get a TV job, and hope someone thinks you got a bad deal and hires you immediately. For some people, though, it makes more sense to hang back for a while and look for a new job in another offseason.
Former Sixers coach Eddie Jordan is one of those guys. After being let go following the 2009-10 season, he decided to step back and seek out a new NBA job when the chance presented itself. But he still wanted to coach basketball, so he returned to his alma mater to help out. Except it wasn't his college, or even his high school's varsity team. Instead, Jordan is coaching his high school's freshman team. From Josh Barr for the Washington Post (via TrueHoop):
[A]s Eddie Jordan tried to teach his newest charges one last thing, their hour on a rented recreation center court was up. A man had come in twice, pointing to his watch each time, signaling it was time to get out. A dozen youngsters were waiting to get in a game of dodge ball before the Jazzercisers came in. [...]
Two years after his last stop in basketball's big leagues, the most successful coach in the Washington Wizards' recent history is back on the floor, coaching the freshman boys' team at Carroll High, his alma mater. He is not getting paid — though he still has $3 million remaining on his contract with the Philadelphia 76ers — and the team looks much different from the professionals to whom he is accustomed to leading.
There are no 6-footers, let alone a 7-footer. At 6 feet 1, Jordan towers above his players. The assistant coach — his former high school coach and Carroll Athletic Director George Leftwich — drives the bus so that the players can get to practice. [...]
"I just felt, to be in a gym and helping kids, I wanted to see what kind of group I will get," Jordan said. "It's my high school. It's Carroll. . . . I wanted to give back."
Jordan still has the itch to coach in the NBA, but his work at Carroll has given him a chance to coach the basics of the game in a low-pressure environment. It's probably a lot of fun, if still a serious gig. He doesn't have his own equipment manager, but he also doesn't have to juggle massive egos and face several bosses and the media after every loss. Given that he's still making his Sixers salary, that probably sounds like a good gig.
Still, Jordan is competitive, and it's easy to see why coaching 14-year-olds would be less fulfilling in the long run than trying to get a group of men to the heights of the sport. It's not like this is Jordan's dream -- it's a pleasant stopgap on the way to his temporarily derailed career goals.
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