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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would like to coach the MIlwaukee Bucks. (PHOTO: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com )

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar should be Bucks coach


Author's note: The headline of this column has changed since its original publication date on March 5. It is clearly my opinion that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would be an excellent coach for the Bucks, but in no way has he asked for the job. I apologize to him.

One of the ways you can tell that this edition of the Milwaukee Bucks is capturing some real attention is that people are starting to talk about them and about what they need to do to get better.

If the Bucks were a hopeless cause they would be absent from the sports talk radio airwaves, but the air is full of Bucks talk.

Last week, for example, I listened to almost two straight hours of speculation on who should be the next head coach for the Bucks. The list was full of the usual suspects: fired coaches, retired coaches, assistant coaches, college coaches.

One name I didn't hear, and one that I think should move to the very head of the line is a man I talked with last week who said he'd jump at the chance to coach the Bucks.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

I asked him flat out if he would be willing to be the head coach of the Bucks.

"Of course," he replied.

I think being a head coach in the NBA is a lot more than knowing what plays to run and calling out strategies during a game. At this level, everyone can shoot and run and play defense. They all have the skills. The successful teams are able to maximize the opportunity to use those skills and meld them into a team.

Another big thing in the NBA is that the players have to respect their head coach. There is not much doubt that there would be massive respect for the greatest player in the history of the league.

But besides his reputation, what else would he bring to the Bucks?

"I know how to prepare for a season as an individual and I know what that means in terms of team commitment," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I can get all the right people together that have some chemistry and care about each other and they love the game. That's where teams are made or not made successful.

"That's very hard for GM's to figure out. They know talent when they see it. But that ability to connect with your teammates, that personal chemistry is a hard thing to see in people. I can help players learn how to develop that chemistry. We had Pete Newell out here (in Los Angeles) and he was a master at understanding the personal fire within each player. I'd be a coach who can provide respect and keep the guys on the same page for a whole season."

It's interesting to hear Abdul-Jabbar talk about a coach providing respect. We hear a lot about how the players don't respect coaches, but he understands that it is at least equally important, if not more so, that the coach have respect for the players and that he teach his players how to respect each other.

There are a number of other advantages to having Abdul-Jabbar as a coach.

The Bucks have a budding star in center Larry Sanders and having Abdul-Jabbar as a coach could be a tremendous benefit to his development.

Abdul-Jabbar's off season workouts were the envy of many other athletes and coaches. He clearly had magnificent talent, but he always worked to get the most out of what he had. That kind of ethic will be a great example.

He is also a very smart man who understands the value of being relaxed when you play basketball. The Bucks have had a number of coaches who were wound tight as a drum and the relaxed style of Abdul-Jabbar would most likely be welcomed in the locker room.

And one other thing. Abdul-Jabbar is unmarred by failure. Nothing he has ever done in his life, off or on the court, has been anything but successful.

That kind of record of accomplishment would be a great thing to add to the exciting future that seems to be on the horizon for the Bucks next year.

I hope that John Hammond and Sen. Kohl will try to think outside the box on this one. The Bucks have a chance to develop into something special, and Abdul-Jabbar could well be a big piece of that puzzle.


Talkbacks

portlander | March 7, 2013 at 4:45 p.m. (report)

If I were an NBA owner, I would contact Jabbar, Rick Barry and Gary Payton. At least that's where I would want to start.

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cscbadger | March 7, 2013 at 11:24 a.m. (report)

Kareem is a first-class jerk. There is a reason no one has hired him as a coach.

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captain | March 6, 2013 at 4:10 p.m. (report)

Terrible Idea! The fact that it is coming from Begel should tell you something. Strange story considering the Bucks have a coach.

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dannyhurtle | March 6, 2013 at 6:56 a.m. (report)

Dave, great artlcle, great idea! Nice to see you not just write a contrarian piece. Kareem could be the catalyst the Bucks need as an organization. Plus, despite being professionals, most of these guys (NBA players) only have one year of college and before that a high school career so they actually NEED a coach. I never quite understand some Milwaukeeans faccination with the failure of the Bucks but this would be an amazing step in the right direction. Also, having the youth of today bring the "Skyhook" back to the game!

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TosaJim | March 5, 2013 at 10:44 a.m. (report)

How quickly we forget...Kareem could not wait to get out of Milwaukee...he hated living here. I didn't blame him at the time...I lived near him and people would slowly drive by his house to get a glimpse of him...he said he felt he didn't "fit" in Milwaukee....now you want him back? Early in his career he was a introverted jerk....and he's mellowed as he got older...I guess he realized that if he wanted a career outside of playing ball he needed to talk to people. Kareem...stay in California..it would be too cold for you here in Milwaukee.

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