How a Lakers coaching staff of strangers blended to lead the West’s top team

first_imgCHICAGO — The Lakers might not be where they are today if not for a very crucial task that helps keep them humming.It’s an area that falls under the expertise of assistant coach Mike Penberthy, who once won a title with the Shaq-and-Kobe-era Lakers. When coaching staff meetings invariably bog down with the minutiae of game planning, he’s often the one who makes the decision to shake things up.“I’ll be like, ‘You know what, I think we need some donuts today,’” he said. “I’ll grab one of the young guys (on staff), and say, ‘Go grab us two dozen.’ That type of thing.”It isn’t breaking news that one of the favorite guilty pleasures of the American workplace is also fuel for the Lakers’ coaching staff, which needs a pick-me-up as much as any cubicle warrior. But it’s what happens over those donuts – free-flowing conversations and sharing of basketball ideas – that has melded a room full of relative strangers into a group that is now overseeing the team with the best record in the Western Conference and avoided the landmines that many outside observers predicted would lay ahead. “Personally, I never think we’ll hear them say they appreciate it,” Crawford said. “But when they go out there and do what you want them to do, that’s basically them saying they believe in your plan and they appreciate what you’ve done.”Going to Chicago was a bit of a dubious honor for a Lakers staff that has probably earned a vacation – Kidd joked, “we’re not gonna get away from each other.” But others said it felt validating to see that at the season’s midway point, a brand new staff has found its way to functionality this quickly. The day the Lakers learned they would be coaching Team LeBron, following a January game in Brooklyn, was a moment of celebration.“Moreso than being there (at All-Star), that’s my moment I’ll remember, when we clinched,” Simon said. “I really wanted it.”There’s a lot of season left, then the postseason which will ultimately be the criteria that determines whether the vision sculpted in those early meetings in Beverly Hills can hold up. The Lakers have a lot of work to do, but they believe their system of idea-sharing is a foundation that will continue to lift them.“Guys are intelligent. Guys are not afraid to share thoughts, to be themselves,” Handy said. “And I think that’s always good for growth.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIt’s not that donuts are the secret to success: It’s culture.Led by head coach Frank Vogel, the Lakers have leveraged a coaching staff of diverse, opinionated personalities into one of the league’s most successful idea-churning machines, one that has translated to 41 wins before the All-Star break. While talent is the baseline for any successful team – and the Lakers have a head start with elite stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis – a coaching staff empowers that talent to win games.No one in the West has done that better than the Lakers staff, whose conference-best record led them to coach Team LeBron (to a win, by the way) in last weekend’s All-Star Game in Chicago. While the only standard that will satisfy a fanbase used to winning is a championship, the Lakers coaches have done all they can to this point to position themselves to get a top seed for the postseason and a potential run to a title this spring.It starts from a basic tenet of leadership that is often preached but rarely executed to this degree: Vogel wants to hear his coaches’ ideas – whether it’s in a staff meeting, on a golf course, during a steak dinner or over a Boston Kreme.“A lot of times, I’m wrong,” he said. “And they have an opportunity to say, ‘I don’t know if I would do that, Coach’ or I’ll say something, and they may say ‘I love that, I actually love that idea. Let’s go with that.’ They bring me a lot of affirmation for what my gut instinct is on that moment, and they’ve done a great job with that.” The constant buzz of communication between the Lakers coaches, who came from very different backgrounds, has flowed throughout the season. And while disagreements happen, they’re allowed. That tone flows from Vogel, a low-ego coach who doesn’t shoot ideas down but also has the final say.Time will tell, but the Lakers think they’ve found a winning combination with a staff that many questioned when it was assembled.“I just think Frank likes to hear from everybody every day,” assistant Lionel Hollins said. “People have opportunities to voice their opinions and thoughts. In good leadership, that’s not unique. In coaches, it might be unique.”FIRST IMPRESSIONSOn a September morning, seven men filed into the ballroom in a Beverly Hills hotel for the first official meeting of the Lakers’ coaching staff.NBA coaches have varying degrees of flexibility in choosing their own subordinates, but the Lakers’ organization, through the direction of General Manager Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and advisor Kurt Rambis, sought for Vogel’s coaching staff to have more experience than the last one under Luke Walton.That was a big reason the meeting that day included Hollins and Jason Kidd, two former head coaches. There was also Phil Handy, who worked the back of the bench for title runs in Cleveland and Toronto; Penberthy, who had worked for Minnesota and New Orleans; and Miles Simon, the lone holdover from the previous coaching staff. The only person who had worked for Vogel before, Quinton Crawford, was serving in his first official assistant job after being a video coordinator in Orlando. There were some informal ties: Kidd and Handy, for example, had both grown up in the Bay Area – but it was hard to know what to expect walking into that room as co-workers.It might have been strangest for Simon, the holdover who entered the offseason unsure of who even his head coach was going to be. But once the group started talking, it was clear to him: This was a room where he would be a pupil as much as a coach.“It was fun, especially for me,” he said. “I came from a background where I had only worked on one staff, and I only knew one way. For all these guys coming from all these places, it was like Basketball 101 for me.”Some coaches prefer chalkboards; others prefer dry erase boards. Vogel, who first cracked into the league as a film junkie, does his best communication through video and slide presentations. That first day, there was a lot of work to get on the same terminology, but there were also breakout tangents that went on longer than anticipated: The staff talked for at least 90 minutes – three times as long as initially planned – about their experiences and preferred strategies for guarding Houston’s high-scoring James Harden.There was also homework. Each coach was asked to present on three playoff teams from the previous year and give thoughts and analysis – a proving ground that gave Vogel’s assistants a feel for how he wanted scouting done.The coaches’ retreat had informal morning and post-lunch sessions that were mostly business – with the occasional Vogel joke brightening the mood. But after about 3 p.m., the notebooks were filed away, and the golf clubs were unsheathed as the coaches got to play on a nearby course together.Like their coaching backgrounds, there is considerable diversity when it comes to their golfing skills. Penberthy and Kidd are the agreed-upon best golfers in the group. Handy admits, “I can’t golf worth a lick.” Vogel is somewhere in the middle, a straight hitter who can compete. They all enjoyed the sunshine. Beer might have been consumed.But even then, letting loose? It was a form of work, too.“It’s not just trying to hit the ball straight, you see somebody’s personality,” Kidd said. “You see how serious they take it, or whether they can laugh at themselves. You get to learn a lot about someone.”The Lakers spend their time in meetings just like any other staff, but they might just as soon formulate strategy over dinner or during a flight. Many of the assistants say Vogel is among the best communicators they’ve ever worked with, and he finds that a churn of basketball conversation can bring out the best ideas, no matter where they are hatched.“The best way to get stuff done is to do it when you’re not supposed to,” Penberthy said. “Our best conversations happen not during the game or in the meetings, but on the bus, on the planes, at dinner, over a donut. … If you’re not hanging out, you’re missing out on that stuff.”WELCOMING ALL VIEWSEvery game, during timeouts, Kidd sees Vogel enter what he calls “computer mode.”He’ll ask Kidd to rattle off offensive plays that he likes. Kidd might get through 10. He might get through two. He knows he’s done when he hears one response: “OK, got it.” Then he’ll draw it up, whether it was an idea Kidd suggested or not.“In this age of technology,” Kidd said, with a grin, “he’s computer goals when it comes to in-game coaching.”Respected as a detailed Xs and Os coach, Vogel is someone his assistants observed has the ability to quickly synthesize a lot of information during games. But this skill is only useful when the people around him are feeding him the information he needs.“I’ve always been a group decision-maker,” Vogel said.The Lakers are like a lot of NBA staffs. Behind the bench, Simon, Penberthy and Crawford feed ideas to the front-row coaches, Handy, Kidd and Hollins. Kidd tends to focus on offense, while Hollins tends to focus on defense. The front-of-the-bench coaches work with Vogel to make in-game decisions, and Vogel has the final say.But that vertical hierarchy has been expanded, especially outside of game environments when Vogel is welcoming of any concepts and judges them dispassionately. His assistants say he is not someone who shoots down ideas emotionally but talks them out, and if he disagrees, he details reasons why. Ideas aren’t categorized as “good” or “bad,” they said. The less useful ones are set aside but could be revisited later.A lot of initial speculation on Vogel’s staff, which centered around the possibility that he could be undermined by a staff that he didn’t hand-pick, overlooked that there aren’t many head coaches who are more welcoming to intellectual debate. Instead of perceiving Kidd and Hollins as a threat if the season got off to a shaky start, he invited their ideas. A sense of ambition, Vogel said, is healthy in assistants. Penberthy said Vogel’s first question to him was whether he wanted to be a head coach.“I said yeah, and he said, ‘Good, then I want you on my staff,’” he said. “Because when you want somebody on your staff – not that I want to take his job – but that means I’m going to be learning and absorbing everything. And that process, (Vogel) is a part of that.”The staff has disagreements, but they largely do so behind closed doors, then present a united front of whatever path Vogel has decided. But Vogel has also presented ideas to his staff that they’ve disliked and has backed down himself.He has one ask for a dissenting opinion: Show him why.“You want people who are going to give you counter-arguments and different ideas and are going to play devil’s advocate for everything that you’re doing,” he said. “I think that respectful communication with truthful opinions on things gives you a process to steer the ship the right way.”Of course, there are many opinions to draw from. Hollins has been in the NBA for almost all of the last 45 years as a player and coach. Kidd had a Hall of Fame career as a player, but he said some of his insight and lessons come from talking to Crawford to get his analysis from breaking down film.There is an X-factor to this equation: Vogel coaches some of the most experienced and opinionated players in the league, including James and Rajon Rondo. James in particular is given some leeway with plays – “I trust the ball in LeBron James’ hands late,” Vogel said earlier this season – but at the end of the day, James is coached, too. James said he’s had respect for Vogel since he was coaching the Indiana Pacers against James’ Miami Heat teams.Handy, who coached James in Cleveland, says James likes to be coached and challenged. At the same time, Vogel solicits the opinions of his A-level talent – a necessary trait of anyone who is going to coach a superstar.“When you have great players like that, it would be remiss of a coach to not ask them what they see, what they feel,” Handy said. “That’s part of coaching, and Frank does that with the best of them.”EARNING RESPECTIt’s hard to pick just one of 41. Some assistants couldn’t say which win was their favorite.The first big one, though, might have been the fifth game of the season in Dallas, when the Lakers were getting spread out and beat by Luka Doncic and his Mavericks teammates. The Lakers battled back, and Vogel drew up an after-timeout-play that led to the game-tying 3-point shot by Danny Green (albeit with the help of a missed illegal screen) and they went on to win in overtime.Looking back, Handy said, it was the first big indication that the Lakers had toughness – both their players and their coaches.“It was a really good win, and the way those guys hung in there and showed confidence,” he said. “And I think Frank’s play-call and those guys being able to execute on it, helped them gain more confidence in Coach. And those things go hand in hand, I think.”Not all trust is built through drawing up big shots. Vogel said the top thing he believes his staff has become good at so far is keeping an eye on the roster – figuring out who needs to be picked up when he’s frustrated by minutes, his role or something else. His assistants help him keep a pulse on the group, giving him insight on when he needs to sit down with a player and talk, or when he can give him a little space.That commitment to communication – and willingness to occasionally expand the rotation – is one reason why his assistants believe Vogel has been successful with a veteran group when his other head coaching jobs have largely focused on developing younger players. That and the detail-oriented nature of his staff has helped win over the group.Related Articleslast_img read more

Objections to House-to-House Registration

first_imgDear Editor,The apparent unending cycle of judicial encounters, vehement dialogue among the masses concerning the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) and its consequences are having a new manifestation. Some have chosen to ignore the obvious and have mastered the art of sprouting alternative facts.However, the truth will always win and the person of integrity will always stand out and be distinguished among pretenders.So, we have had seven months and eleven days since the December 21 successful passage of the NCM. It has been 1 month and 14 days since the definitive ruling of the CCJ. Further, it has been 20 days since the consequential orders of the CCJ were given and the same old rhetoric of a desperate, undemocratic and insincere Government continues. This time, it is not “34 is the majority”, it is “House-to-House Registration”; a transparent ploy to buy themselves more time. The judicial system is being burdened because of the unwillingness of this Granger-led Administration to abide by the provisions of Articles 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution. Emphasis here, a caretaker Government must hold elections in three months. There is no evidence that suggests the President and his team will obey the Constitution, actions speak louder than words.Now, let’s examine GECOM and its work programme towards elections. Documentation emanating from the Secretariat indicates that the pathway using Claims and Objections to get to a certified Official List of Electors (OLE) will take 119 days ie 29 days beyond the three-month timeframe as constitutionally mandated. We believe this can be shortened by way of using the list which validity expired on April 30, 2019, have a Claims and Objections exercise lasting no more than three to four weeks, nominations day is usually 32 days before election day. In good faith, this is the pathway for “sanitising and removal” promulgating the facilitation of timely credible elections, giving an opportunity for all eligible voters to be on the list.The same document further outlines that House-to-House Registration requires 290 days to get to a National Register of Registrants database (NRRDB). After this, you still have to facilitate Claims and Objections, which as stated above requires 119 days to get to an Official List of Electors (OLE); a total of 409 days – almost a period of 14 months. This is totally unacceptable. We in the PPP/C believe this cry of “no House-to-House Registration, no elections” by the APNU/AFC Government and GECOM in the absence of a constitutionally appointed Chairperson commencing this ongoing House-to-House exercise is a recipe for delay, disaster and damage to our constitutional democracy.Having spent 25 billion dollars and counting on a House-to-House exercise in 2008 followed by 11 cycles of Continuous Registration, the last being October 2018, GECOM’s current move to create a new database which will essentially serve as a de-registration exercise as against a registration exercise is toxic, senseless and pandering to political forces, this must be stopped.The database that currently exists was used for the 4 recent elections – (i) 2011 where the APNU and AFC lost but garnered a one-seat majority in the National Assembly, (ii) 2015 General and Regional Elections where the APNU/AFC coalition came to Government with a one-seat majority, (iii) 2016 Local Government Elections and (iv) 2018 Local Government Elections where the PPP/C achieved more than 63 per cent of the popular vote.At no time before the successful passage of the no-confidence vote did this Granger-led Administration or anyone have a problem with the credibility of the list or the database. Every cry should now be seen as crocodile tears, a farce, lacking in justification.The courts and GECOM itself must assert its independence and reject the connivance and threats emanating from operatives within and closely connected to the Government. It is expected that the current House-to-House Registration should be stopped by the courts and GECOM itself.To continue would mean, using GECOM’s timelines as previously outlined – elections would be held sometime in June 2020, giving this Government a full five-year term, totally ignoring the consequences of the successful passage of a no-confidence vote. The Caribbean Court of Justice clearly stated when it ruled on June 18, 2019, that the provisions of the Constitution contained in Articles 106 (6) and 106 (7) were immediately engaged.As such, elections are due by September 18, 2019. A House-to-House Registration to get an OLE is unconstitutional, a delay tactic and meant to satisfy the narrow-minded political agenda of Granger and his Administration.Justice and righteousness are required on this matter.Yours sincerely,Bishop Juan A EdghillPPP/C MPlast_img read more

Sparks name entertainment executive as new president

first_imgNancy Spears, an entertainment industry executive and recreation-league teammate of Sparks co-owner Carla Christofferson, was hired Tuesday as president of the WNBA team. Christofferson and Katherine Goodman head an investment group that purchased the Sparks from the Lakers in December. They plan to participate in a limited number of events in 2007 while they finish school and get back into competitive shape for the 2008 Olympics. PASSINGS: Willye White, a five-time U.S. Olympian and two-time Olympic track and field silver medalist, has died. She was 67. White died of pancreatic cancer at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to a longtime friend. WINTER SPORTS: Lindsey Kildow won her first medal – a silver – after finishing second to home favorite Anja Paerson in the women’s super-giant slalom at the Alpine Skiing World Championship in Are, Sweden. Bode Miller made a series of mistakes and finished 24th in the men’s super-G at the world championships in Are. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Spears, 37, joins the Sparks from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, where she was director of worldwide acquisitions. Before that, she was director of marketing for Kid Franchise Entertainment at Warner Home Video. “Her brand marketing experience will be a great asset as we continue to build the franchise into one of the finest in sports,” Goodman said of Spears in a news release. “Equally important, Nancy shares our vision of creating a community among Sparks’ fans.” center_img Spears played basketball and softball for four years at South Pasadena High. FOOTBALL: Gordon Riese, the Pacific-10 Conference official who missed a call during the Oklahoma-Oregon game last season, has been told he will not return to the job in that capacity. Riese said he received death threats after a call on an onside kick near the end of the Sept. 16 game that the Ducks won 34-33. Televised replays showed the Sooners recovered that kick, but Riese did not see that angle in the replay booth. Riese will remain a Pac-10 technical assistant, making about $350 a game. GYMNASTICS: Olympic champion Paul Hamm, who won the disputed gold medal in the all-around at the 2004 Olympics, and his twin brother, Morgan, have decided to return to competitive gymnastics USA Gymnastics officials confirmed. last_img read more