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My Take - What does it take to be a success?
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Just win, baby.

            To be a successful coach in the NBA, apparently you have to advance, at the very least, to the semifinals of the playoffs every year.

            Don’t believe me?

            Ask Mike Brown, Mike Woodson and Mike Curry, just to name a few from the lengthy list of dismissals. And that’s just within the last year. And they all got canned with a winning record under their belts.

            All Brown did was win more games than anyone else in the NBA the last two seasons.

            Didn’t matter.

Ask anyone in Cleveland, and they’ll tell you anybody could win a title with LeBron James on the roster, so if you don’t, you’re clearly a terrible coach.

            All Woodson did was claw through a 13-69 season in 2005-06 and improve each year, culminating in a conference semifinal appearance for the second year in a row after a 53-29 regular season. And that was in Atlanta, arguably one of the most irrelevant franchises in the history of the league, no less.

            Curry, whose dismissal from the Pistons around this time last year hit close to home in the GSU Eagle Nation, was a different story. It was clear that he needed to win 70 games and a title every year. After all, the guy he replaced (Flip Saunders) only made three pathetic trips to the conference finals in his three years at the helm.

            Before that, the Pistons ran Larry Brown out of town because he only made it to game seven of the Finals after winning the championship the year prior.

            I bring all this up because I wanted to share my opinion on one of the most over-used and misunderstood words in sports (in my opinion) – success.

            Obviously, most NBA franchises measure success in titles. Not wins and losses, not playoff appearances and not ticket sales. Just banners.

            It’s not just the NBA. You see it in the NFL, MLB, everywhere – albeit to an arguably lesser extent.

            There are a handful of college programs that measure success the same way too – even at the lower levels.

            I look at it a different way, and my argument is this: Great teams make the playoffs, and great, lucky teams win championships.


            With the billions of dollars invested in finding coaches for the country’s professional and college programs, my argument is a difficult one to make. I realize that a lot is invested in the quest for a title.

            Still, if you are a GM, AD or president, you can make all the right decisions. You can have the right coach, the right assistants, the right administration, the right players, the right playcalling and a packed house for every game. You’ll still need a few lucky bounces if you’re going to get the ring. Too many outside factors can impact any given game, and it’s simply impossible to plan for them all.

            If that weren’t true the Lakers, the Yankees, the Patriots, Duke and USC would win their respective titles every year.

            But that doesn’t happen.

            Still, perhaps the suits at the top, the coaches, the players and especially the fans should just be happy when they’re in the playoff conversation and sit back to enjoy the ride when they get there.

            If that happened, maybe the Mike Browns, Mike Woodsons, Mike Currys and even Mike Sewaks of the world could have spent more time worrying about how to make their programs even better and less time worrying about who was going to be signing their next paycheck.

            Of course that’s all just my opinion. Most would probably disagree with me and those calling the shots at the nation’s favorite programs clearly do.

            Heck, it’s summertime. There’s a good chance when the next season comes around, the next time the coach of one of my favorite franchises makes a bad call or a bad decision, I’ll join the vocal masses in calling for heads to roll, too.

            But hey, it’s nice to be idealistic sometimes.


            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.