Notes From Courtside: Mo Knows Teaching
Continuing with the "youth is served" meme that keeps popping up this postseason, let's take a look at the 76ers. The last time this team was in the playoffs, they were riding the backs of aging superstars Allen Iverson and Chris Webber. This time around, they have but one player (32-year-old Andre Miller) in the rotation older than 27.
While listening to Mo Cheeks talk to the press before last night's Game 5 match with the Pistons, I couldn't help but notice how much he seems to enjoy the responsibility of teaching as well as coaching.
"I enjoy coaching. I can't play anymore, so this is the closest thing I can do to play. I enjoy all of the things that come with it -- I don't enjoy you guys too much [laughter] -- but I enjoy all the things that go with coaching, and that is what I tell my players. ... I particularly enjoy when I see Lou Williams and [reminding] him about being up the floor and [how he'll have] a chance to get a steal up the court -- and I'll look up and he's up the floor and he's getting a steal. Those are some of the rewards of coaching.
"I'm pretty fortunate in that I have players that listen, they try to go out and do all these things right. And I'm very fortunate in that area that I have these guys that go out there and try and do things right and listen, and they don't always do them right [laughs] but they're out there trying to do them. And that's a very fortunate thing for me as a coach, and I think that's rewarding for our coaches is that you have these guys, you're trying to teach them, you're trying to show them different things about the game and then they go out and try to do it."
There are a lot of young teams that are willing and able to learn, but one of the big reasons that the Sixers have been able to make a jump this year has been the steady play of Miller, their veteran point guard. "I think when you have veteran players, they've obviously been around a while, if they have a different ways of doing things, I think you have to allow a little leeway," said Cheeks.
"I rarely will tell Andre Miller how to do this [or] do that. He'll say something to me and I'll say, OK. Or I'll say something to him and he'll say, OK. See, I'm fortunate in having a player like that who understands the game and he tries to make the game easier for everyone else. When you have veterans like that, you've got to give them a little leeway. Young guys, you've got to stay on them, you're talking to them and teaching them all the time."
The Sixers aren't the only team benefiting from solid point guard play: the Hawks have been collecting lottery picks for years, but it wasn't until they added a guy like Mike Bibby to the mix that they were able to put it together and make some noise.