Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson joins Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Atkinson details the challenge of taking over the rebuilding Nets and the emotion of returning to his New York roots for his first head-coaching opportunity in the NBA. Atkinson discusses his long-winding road from Long Island to the University of Richmond to the old Continental Basketball Association to a decade and a half of playing in far-flung European cities and towns.
Atkinson also discusses his career crossroads, leaving the New York Knicks bench to join the Atlanta Hawks, where his head-coaching candidacy started to take shape. Atkinson grew up one of eight boys in a competitive sports family, sharpening his survival instincts and learning the value of relentlessness and tenacity.
1:12: The emotion of becoming an NBA head coach in his home state.
3:33: Building his staff as a first-time head coach and reaching out to players.
6:43: The importance of international players and creativity in the team’s future with a lack of draft picks.
8:39: Atkinson’s reputation for player development helping to attract players in free agency.
12:07: Working with superstars and what he learned from Yao Ming with the Rockets.
16:04: His international playing career after graduating from Richmond.
23:10: The start of his coaching career with Paris Racing and making the jump to the NBA.
27:41: Joining Mike D’Antoni’s staff with the Knicks as a player-development coach.
29:40: The difficult decision to leave the Knicks for an assistant-coaching job with the Hawks.
31:16: Learning from Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer and being exposed to the San Antonio Spurs’ culture.
38:57: Growing up in a basketball family and his father’s relentless work ethic.
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