PHOENIX – Clippers trainer Tyronn Lue examined the NBA landscape at the end of this season and shared a remarkable observation: three of the last four leading coaching teams in the respective conference finals will be black.
It’s Lue and Phoenix’s Monty Williams in the final of the Western Conference. And in the Eastern Conference, either Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers or Atlanta’s Nate McMillan were scheduled for the Conference finals when Lue spoke on the Sunday before Game 1 in Phoenix.
“Three of the four remaining coaches will be black coaches,” said Lue, who started coaching under Rivers – like Lue a former NBA point guard before he first coached in 1999 about how we trained. Hopefully we can stop being demeaned so we can just build the way for other young black coaches.
“I think a lot of openings this summer will hopefully see a lot of GMs and owners that black coaches are good coaches and hope they give the young coaches coming today a chance.”
Lue said he didn’t feel burdened as a representative of the Black Coaching Brotherhood and insisted he was just doing a good job – see: Cleveland Cavaliers’ first NBA title and three consecutive NBA finals and now a first conference final place for the Clippers – it will add to the progress.
“I don’t think there is any added pressure, but I want to do well so you can keep seeing it,” Lue said. “Like I said, just learning from Doc Rivers and having the chance to be under him for so long and see how he carried his weight and how he reacted to a lot of different things, a lot of criticism, won the championship doesn’t have to be a great team.
“So I just learn a lot from him and I hope I can do the same for these young coaches.”
Speaking of Rivers, Lue said he spoke to his mentor this week when Rivers called to say, “Congratulations, damn good job” after the Clippers beat top seed Utah in six games, to get ahead.
“I spoke to him two days ago when we won the game against Utah,” said Lue, who said he would dig for the 76ers on Sunday night. “We talked a little. Hopefully he’ll make it today.
“He’s always in my corner, I’m in his corner. He gave me my first opportunity and my first chance. He wants me to be fine and I want him to be fine too. ”
The Suns have been free since June 13 when they finished their four-game sweep against Denver in the conference semifinals.
The Clippers are still breathing after they leveled a 25-point deficit in the second half of Game 6 against Utah at the Staples Center on Friday night. This series, played every other day, followed the Clippers’ seven-game series against Dallas in the first round.
So while Phoenix had a week to practice and prepare, the Clippers’ itinerary was more limited after their emotional graduation in front of a full house at the Staples Center.
On the subject of matching items
Clippers vs. Suns Live Updates: Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals
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Clippers, Suns meet in the final of the Western Conference full of strangers
Clippers vs. Suns: Western Conference Final Schedule, Scouting Report, Prediction
Whicker: To create a memory, Clippers resolve a 2015 nightmare
Lue said the team landed in Phoenix around 2 p.m. on Saturday, afterwards, he met with his coaching colleagues for a few hours before they called up the players around 6 p.m. for a film session.
“We went to see some games that were on video,” said Lue, whose team ended preparation for the franchise conference debut with a 20-minute tour of a ballroom.
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