The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Sidenote: Media Larry

I should probably add to the below- one of the reasons I think Lawrence Frank will eventually make a great college coach is that he’s also a very skilled media manipulator, as the reactions to his firing should indicate. I am willing to wager that the majority of those defending him, if not all, have not watched 10 Nets games in the last 3 years and could not tell you the relative league performances of his offenses and defenses over the course of his head coaching tenure. There’s a reason people are still citing his first 13 games 5 years ago in his defense. Moreover, I am also willing to bet that the majority of the people defending him simply don’t care about any of those things either- they see a stand-up guy who’s being fired by a salary-dumping penny-pinching ownership, and they feel the need to get their digs in partly because they think it’s the right thing to do, partly because they want to be seen to be doing the right thing. You’ll notice we’re no longer talking about basketball or the specifics of what Frank’s coaching was like.

The thing about it is, by all accounts Frank really is a nice, likable guy; but he’s also at pains to be a very publicly nice and likable guy, and that is not an accident. He’s built a specific image of himself for public consumption, and in one of the most media and personality-driven sports that’s been a canny business practice. In the past it’s served to keep him in his job longer than performances would indicate he should have been on merit alone; now, it’s covering for the fact that he was fired very much for cause and for failing at the two duties a coach of a team like the Nets must succeed at: maintaining motivation and getting the most out of limited talent with an appropriate system. Lost amidst the hand-wringing will be the fact that Larry will not miss one paycheck as a result of this, and that his time up on the cross of the Nets’ awfulness is if anything a great marketing gimmick for him: more people are talking about him than ever before, and instead of being the guy who helped contribute to one of the worst seasons of all time, he’s now the guy who was “unfairly” fired despite trying to stop the rot where he could. The story is total bullshit, but it’s going to get him hired in Oklahoma or Minnesota or somewhere like that when he probably would have been a complete afterthought under other circumstances. That’s the great thing about having discussions untethered to specifics- if you’re into reading everything in the sports world as a morality tale, it makes it a lot easier to do.

For the record, Lawrence Frank’s teams’ rank in offensive and defensive rating, year by year:

Offense: 26th, 25th, 16th, 25th, 16th, and dead last this year when he was fired.

Defense: 7th, 4th, 15th, 21st, 24th and 13th when he was fired, I believe.

No, those numbers aren’t the whole story. But when a coach has produced that over 5 seasons plus and is currently in charge of an 0-16 outfit, I would say the burden of proof is on those saying he should be retained, not those saying it’s time for a change. Especially so when the people who want to keep him manifestly don’t give a fuck about the team in question except insofar as it provides a useful soapbox to mount.

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November 30, 2009 - Posted by | The Nets

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