Jackson, Rivers Disagree on Why College Coaches Struggle in NBA
They were asked the same question. Their answers were so different.
In reference to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo possibly becoming the next coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, both were asked why successful college coaches in the past have failed so often in the NBA.
Jackson, who has won 10 NBA titles, said it was because the job in the NBA is just more difficult. Rivers, who has won one title, said it was merely that the college coaches always have been saddled with bad teams.
"I don't think it's tough for college coaches to coach in the NBA. If you look at it historically, they've all had bad jobs. It's more that than anything else,'' Rivers said with his typical, self-effacing manner. "I think the first one who gets good players will be a good coach in our league.''
Well-respected college coaches like Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tim Floyd and Mike Montgomery all failed in the NBA and returned to be successful again in the college game.
"It's not an easy job. It's a pretty arduous task as far as dealing with stars of all ranges coming to the NBA and dealing with them,'' said Jackson, the league's leader in number of NBA titles. "The game itself, 82 games, is a big difference from 30 or whatever you coach in college. It's just an arduous task.''
Jackson, who is known as a psychologist as well as a basketball coach, questioned whether a college coach could handle the rigors of the NBA. Rivers scoffed at that notion.
"Usually when you take a job in the league, it's usually because a team hasn't done well, and usually they don't have a lot of players,'' Rivers said. "And usually those are the jobs that a lot of the college coaches have gotten. There are a lot of college coaches who would be very good NBA coaches."