April 05, 2011
The NBA's D-League has its fanatical devotees, and part of the reason for that fanaticism and love of the D-League culture are stories like this.
Former Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman currently coaches the Reno Bighorns, who are ranked second in this year's D-League playoff bracket, while "probably playing the best basketball in the league," according to one D-League coach. The top three seeds in the bracket, as a nice gift for a regular season gone right, are allowed to choose their opponents for the first round of the playoffs. And Mussleman's team, after failing to come to a consensus about who to choose, did the rational and eventual noble thing.
They picked their opponent's name out of a hat. Erie BayHawks? Come on down.
"We had a seven-hour bus ride (Saturday) night (from Bakersfield) and had a meeting with the entire 10-man roster," he said Sunday. "We went through the four teams and could not even come close to a general consensus.
"We brought the top five veteran players to the front of the bus," Musselman said. "We met with them for over an hour-and-a-half. There was no consensus. Among our coaching staff, there was no consensus."
Musselman said he knew Iowa was going to pick Utah, a team it's 2-0 against this season. That left the Bighorns to pick between Erie, Bakersfield and Texas. Reno was 6-1 against the Jam and 2-0 against the Legends.
"The reason we couldn't come up with a conclusion is because we respect all the teams," he said. "Erie has great talent. They have veterans. They play hard. They're extremely well coached."
The coach behind that great coaching? He doesn't really buy the whole "from a hat" thing. BayHawks coach Jay Larranaga remains dubious:
"Reno chose us because they think we were the easiest matchup for them," Larranaga said.
"I really don't care," he said. "I could say more, but I don't care. All I care is that we play Reno in the first round. We need to be prepared for them."
Oh, you've got to prepare. You've got to fear the hat, I guess.