Is LeBron good for player-coach?
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“Do you want this job, Russ?” Retired head coach Red Auerbach was offered to the Celtics in 1966.

“Definitely not!” Bill Russell responded.

“After I watch you go through? Fuck all the pressure with the referees, the timekeepers, the writers, the fans,” Russell said on red and me. “I don’t want to be in it!”

Russell would eventually spend his final three seasons as player-coach, winning two championships despite the Celtics’ aging roster and an unfamiliar role as an underdog.

When the idea of ​​LeBron as player-coach is raised for reasons similar to Russell’s, the most common initial reaction is again “hell, no.” on ESPNAlong with Jay Williams, Max Kellerman and Keishaun Johnson, a caller suggested LeBron was the “perfect coach” for the Lakers “right in front of you.”

While Williams called the idea a “train wreck,” Max disagreed. “I actually like the idea,” Kellerman said. “It solves a big problem for the Lakers. You can have a player-coach, why not?”

Yes, why not? “

Williams objected to increased workload and autonomy, adding: “This is not the Bill Russell of the 1960s.”

But why not?

LeBron’s former teammate Javale McGee also liked the idea.

“I once heard that Bill Russell was a player-coach, and I was like, ‘Are you a player-coach?'” McGee asked during an appearance club shea shea with Shannon Sharp last September. “‘What’s up with that?’ But after going to the Lakers, I understood how a player can be a player-coach.”

There is also loose evidence that some in the Lakers leadership circle have considered the his on the ball podcastRic Bucher elaborated on a text message he received in November:

“What it says is that it has been suggested to Lakers governor and majority owner Jeanie Buss that LeBron take over as player-coach.” While Bucher could not say how seriously that suggestion was taken, he added that if [for] Nothing but the spectacle and its historical value. “

For NBA media and fans, these are two important points. There is a third reason. Like Russell, LeBron as player-coach will likely give the Lakers their best chance at winning another championship.

Here are four reasons.

1. LeBron is already a player-coach

When injured or rested, LeBron can often seen coaching on the sidelinesbut Javale McGee explains how LeBron is also a coach on the court:

“When LeBron was playing, he was thinking about the game, and he was quietly thinking about the other two players,” McGee said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, you need to be there, you need to be there, if we’re going to win this series, we need to do this, we need to change that.’ He’s a big part of that. So I definitely think, In terms of the brain part of the game, he’s more of a player-coach than just a player.”

The part of LeBron’s brain in the game Help with Photo Memories. Former coaches and players alike . . About LeBron as a basketball genius.

“It’s unbelievable,” said former Cavaliers teammate Iman Shumpert. “You’re talking about people who know the playbook, know where everyone should be, know the playbooks and coaching styles of other coaches. LeBron is one of them.”

LeBron has this generation’s Bill Russell on his mind.Former Knicks, Rhodes scholar and Senator Bill Bradley call Russell “the smartest player ever”. “

Giving LeBron full control just expands coaching autonomy and reduces tactical conflict. LeBron will likely have three more good years, like Russell in 1966.

2. LeBron gets 10 times more coaching support than Russell in the game

On ESPN, Jay Williams expressed concern about LeBron’s increased workload in the championship chase.

Auerbach and Russell initially shared the same concerns. They feel that the player-coach model hurts the interests of both players and coaches, so it’s not the first choice.

Auerbach had promised Russell he wouldn’t hire any coaches without his “100% approval” and both initially preferred to hire the retired Celtics, but for a variety of reasons, Bob Cousy, Frank Ramsay and Tommy Heinsohn All rejected the job. After Russell rejected several head coaching names suggested by Auerbach from outside the organization, Russell accepted the offer.

The problem of “double duty” workloads is not new. The new one is the NBA’s assistant coach.

In 2022, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has eight, including two former head coaches.

In 1966, Coach Russell didn’t.

Early on, it showed. In adjusting to his new role, Russell made early coaching mistakes that would have made Skip Bayless’s head explode if it were LeBron today.

In his first game, Russell forgot to come off the bench for a drained KC Jones for 46 minutes. The Celtics still won. In another close game, he accidentally missed John Havlicek and Sam Jones in the fourth quarter. Even Russell’s career Hall of Fame running mate, Sam Jones, expressed his concerns about the player-coach concept: “When you have to play Wilt Chamberlain,” Jones said, “you have to have your mind just play. Him, nothing else.”

Coach Russell made adjustments. By mid-season, he named Havlicek captain and made him the de facto assistant coach, helping with in-game decisions.

In Russell’s first year in charge, the 1966-67 season, the Celtics still won 60 games but ultimately lost to Wilt Chamberlain’s 68-win 76ers, the most in NBA history. One of the greatest teams. There is no shame there.

Coach LeBron will have no shortage of assistant coaches delegating specific duties and general substitution patterns before games. If Coach LeBron wants to deviate from those patterns based on the flow of the game, then he can. He has done so often. This time, it will have fully specified permissions.

3. Bill Russell is the only useful player-coach comparison for LeBron James

NBA player coaches have gone the way of the dinosaurs, and it’s easy to see why.

In the 1960s, Hall of Famers like Richie Guerin, Dolph Shayes, and Bob Cousy (Cincinnati Royals, 1969) became veteran players and coaches, but mostly in their former shells. The NBA’s player-coach era was mostly unsuccessful because these players couldn’t train themselves five years younger. If your player-coach is an alternate role player, it makes more sense to have only one full-time coach.

As a seasoned player-coach, only Lenny Wilkens remained at a high level (Sonics 1969-1972) but made a 30-win roster, which was in all three years of player-coach improved.

Bill Russell’s situation is unique. Even an older, injury-riddled Russell can still dominate.

In his final season at age 35, Russell averaged 19.3 rebounds per game, third in the NBA ahead of Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, Willis Reed and Much younger Hall of Fame centers like Walter Bellamy.

This has nothing to do with the “1960s” or “2020s”, a player-coach is generally a bad idea in any era.

Bill Russell was the exception then, LeBron is the exception now.

4. The Russell-coached Celtics have won two championships in the past two years — despite their underdogs

For LeBron, Bill Russell’s greatest player-coach case is his last two seasons on an aging team that never won its own division.

Russell’s 1968 and 1969 champion Celtics were not the 1957-1966 Auerbach-Russell Celtics.

Gone are the most dominant lineups and past Hall of Famers like Cousy, Bill Sharman, Heinsohn and KC Jones. Russell and Sam Jones are now in their 30s, and Havlicek is their only young star.

Even so, the 1968 Celtics were the first team in NBA history to fall 3-1 on the road to a title (Wilt’s 76ers).

“Sports writers would later consider Boston’s comeback in Philadelphia to be one of the greatest accomplishments of the Celtics dynasty,” John Taylor wrote in The Rival. “In Herald-Traveler, Tim Horgan called it ‘winner than the Americans’ [Boston] marathon. ‘”

The 1969 Celtics had arguably an even bigger victory, beating three teams with home-court advantage, culminating in a seven-game victory over Wilt-Jerry West-Elgin- Baylor Lakers.

It’s hard to imagine these Celtics winning these championships under any new coach other than Bill Russell.

The Lakers should pay attention to history, because if an older LeBron, a healthy Anthony Davis (enter punch here) and a key offseason lineup have a chance to win another title, they’ll also struggle as underdogs do this. They need to maximize their veteran brains, wits and every strategic advantage to steer the playoffs against younger powerhouses.

And the most qualified coach on the planet to do that is LeBron James.

He’ll be 38 next year and won’t have more time to try a new coach.

The Lakers have to make an offer, and LeBron has to accept.

Maybe both sides can learn from those Celtics.

exist red and meRussell cites his own change of mind after his original “Hell no!”

“I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I let the red card outperform and shouldn’t have put him in that position. So I called him and said, ‘Okay, Rhett. I’ll take the job.

“He said, ‘You made the right choice. Who inspired Bill Russell more than Bill Russell?

Who inspires LeBron James more than LeBron James?