Coaching is about more than wins and losses. Some individuals make a great impact in the community, as well as building players’ confidence and helping shape an identity for a team.
Bob Pierce’s unnecessary departure from the Akita Northern Happinets after one season is an example of this.
His firing this week triggered a flurry of emails to me. And it also got me thinking that the fundamental lack of understanding by those in key positions of power in the bj-league has created a culture where patience is not valued, a proven ability for talent evaluation is not respected and incompetence is more prevalent than previously thought.
A former bj-league coach, who hasn’t run a team here since 2008, sent along this message.
“I can’t believe what happened to Coach Pierce,” he wrote. “He’s a very good person and coach and is only an asset to the bj-league and basketball in Japan”
A veteran coach of four NBA teams also offered his thoughts.
“It’s hard to understand why they would make that decision after their inaugural season and they made the playoffs,” he told me. “At the end of the season they were a much improved team! Basketball is not an experience in instant gratification. It takes hard work and a lot of sacrifices to get to the top and once you get there it’s harder to stay there.”
A fan also pointed out the feelings of many. Listen to his opinion:
“I can’t believe that Pierce, one of the best coaches in the league, was fired from an expansion team so quickly. With the way the league is expanding, expansion teams are going to find it very very hard to have a winning first season with all new players and coaches trying to get to know each other and the single-year contracts.
“I hope he is picked up by some team and they give him a chance to build a team. He knows more about basketball than any of these bj-league/team officials. It’s a coaching carousel with some of these teams and they wonder why they can’t have any success.”