Shall we briefly revisit the 2013-2014 voting for coach of the year? The NBA was cool enough to make the voting public here, but for the sake of brevity let's look at the final break down:
I understand that this is a regular season award, but let's be honest here: that Rick Carlisle did not garner a single first, second, or third place vote is beyond horrendous. On paper, this Maverick squad has so many problems, nearly all of them defensive. And yet, Coach Carlisle managed to hide those weaknesses and help the Mavericks squeeze into the playoffs. Now that he's got the eighth seeded Mavs tied 2-2 against the Spurs, this kind of oversight seems absurd.
So let's go one by one and determine the case of the job the various coaches did in comparison to the one by Carlisle, in reverse order.
10. Jason Kidd, Brooklyn Nets
This feels a great deal like a vote based on narrative. The Nets started off the season in really disastrous fashion and finished off with a reasonable record and made the playoffs. Kidd has the potential to be a good coach, but he's just not there yet.
9. Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have the talent to be a top four team in the West, but instead finished sixth. There were loads of negative stories about his coaching and team cohesion all season. Jackson's another guy capable of more, but he didn't have a great season.
8. Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder
There's a lot of criticisms one could make about Scott Brooks. Suffice it to say that while the Thunder finished number two in the league and in the West, they still have so many question marks and never seem to come close to their ceiling. The current debacle they face heading into a round one elimination game against the 7th-seeded Grizzlies will only raise more questions should they lose.
7. Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers
If anything, Rivers should be much higher on this list. He's the premiere player's coach in this league. Tactically, he doesn't hold a candle to Carlisle in my opinion, but the fact is he's a great coach.
6. Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers
A Carlisle protege on this list while Rick isn't on it at all. The Blazers were pretty impressive with such a weak bench, but they won five more games than Dallas. Considering the narrative that surrounded this team, it feels like this is based a little more on flash as opposed to substance. Then again the Blazers have the Rockets on the brink of elimination.
5. Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
The second Carlisle protege on this list. The main argument for Casey is that he coached his team to such a solid record after having an early season trade that completely changed the team's makeup. That's fine. But they still finished 11th in the league (third in the East).
4. Steve Clifford, Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats finished seventh in the East and 16th over all. However, he DID turn the Bobcats into a league defensive leader and helped mold a maddening offense into a passable one (long reign McBob). The East is a freaking pit of despair and this feels like a participation trophy to some degree. Then again this is the Bobcats we are talking about, so perhaps he deserves to be give some kind of medal for all the troubles they've had.
3. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
This one really, really grates me. Sure, the Bulls made the regular season interesting, but if Thibs is such a masterful coach, then maybe he'll stop driving his starters to an early grave by playing them a million minutes. Tactics and strategy and motivation are all parts of being a coach and when he misses out on a major aspect of coaching (managing playing time) over an 82 game season, this feels like a major black mark. He just lost 4-1 in a playoff series where he played Carlos Boozer a ton and the Bulls got outscored by 20.9 points per 100 possessions with him on the court. He also refused to start Taj Gibson, who was far and away the best Bull player in the series. Overplaying your players and refusing to be aware of basic match up problems is not a helpful argument when discussing the league's best coaches.
2. Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns
I get this one, because the Suns were projected to be terrible. But is this an indicator of his coaching or the fact that we pundits are idiots? He coached a masterful season; Eric Bledsoe DID miss a chunk of the season and they kept winning anyway.
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Great coach, deserved to win. I won't say a bad thing about him.
By my totally biased opinion, Rick Carlisle did a better job than Kidd, Jackson, Brooks, Clifford, Rivers, and Casey. He wasn't coach of the year, I'm not that crazy, but at the very least the guy deserved some recognition for his team's play this year. He adapts his strategy to his team's strengths, an ability that a LOT of coaches simply don't have. That he got not one vote is ridiculous and it irrationally pisses me off.
If the Mavericks somehow hold on and win this series, then the analyst sphere needs to seriously re-asses how they view Carlisle on the coaching totem pole. His is a freaking WARLOCK. He is SO good at this.