Nate Bjorkgren's infamous tenure as Indiana Pacers head coach was short-lived — after one season that included an altercation between a player and an assistant coach, he was let go.
Myles Turner, who has been with the Pacers since he was drafted in 2015, opened up about why Bjorkgren struggled.
"Being a first-year head coach, there's a lot of ego that comes with that. You have a lot of this, ‘I know what I'm doing. I got this.’ But in a sense, you don't always know exactly what you're doing. You have to accept that," Turner said on the Noble and Roosh Show. "He kind of tried to accept that later in the year, but throughout the year, he wouldn't let go of that ego in a sense. That's one of the things that hurt him in his tenure in Indiana."
He described the aftermath of the incident between Goga Bitadze and assistant coach Greg Foster as "really bad."
"There was never (any) fights or anything like that. Nobody ever threw hands. But there was a lot of verbal altercations after that, a lot of stuff in the locker room," Turner said. "It was a lot.
"All that stuff that happened last year, it was like a movie. The losing, not making the playoffs, that was a first for me. You’ve got to take it for what it is. Sometimes it makes the team band together. We have to be more connected than ever because of all the stuff that we're going through."
Turner credited Bjorkgren's basketball IQ.
"Nate is going to get a bad rap just because of everything that went down. One thing about Nate is that he really cared. He just came off a championship. He wanted to adopt that championship mentality in Indiana," Turner said. "He could have had a better tenure here if he went about things a little bit differently. But all in all, X’s and O’s, he was a good coach. He knew what he was doing. We just couldn’t execute it."
Turner said Bjorkgren's offensive strategy was "straight 3s and layups."
"'Don’t shoot a midrange shot,'" Turner said of Bjorkgren's philosophy. "If you shoot a midrange shot, it was death. It would drive him insane. Malcolm Brogdon makes a living off mid-range floaters, mid-range pull-ups or whatnot. He’d have knock-down drag outs with him, saying, ‘Listen, I’ve got to use my midrange, this is my game.' Even personally, I made a career off pick-and-pop midrange in a sense."
Turner said that, at some points, he made the decision he felt was best to help the team win.
"Different strokes, different folks. Everybody has a different philosophy in the way they approach the game. But at the end of the day, we’re the players out there on the floor," he said. "Whatever we deem necessary, we’re professionals who have been doing this for a long time. If it’s a midrange shot, I don’t care what the numbers or the analytics say. This is the best shot in this situation, so I’m going to take this shot."
Turner said Bjorkgren's defensive philosophy allowed him to have one of the best defensive seasons of his career. He averaged a league-best 3 blocks per game.
“Nate Bjorkgren’s defense was probably where I was the best. Our whole philosophy was, ‘We're gonna pressure the (expletive) out of the ball. If you get beat, then you have Myles back there.’ Our guards were constantly getting beat because they were pressuring guys at halfcourt. Some of these guys would go downhill and it was really just me and the guard. They would funnel everything to me, and that's where I got the most blocks here and that's when I was kind of doing my best. That's where I was able to make my mark from a defensive standpoint."
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers: Myles Turner discusses former coach Nate Bjorkgren