Rudy T. took the podium just after noon today at Staples Center and made it official, he is stepping down as Lakers coach. Dr. Buss offered and Rudy T. said he will stay on in the organization for another two years in some other yet-to-be-defined capacity.
He said the move was strictly health related, that the grind and pressure he put on himself as an NBA coach was more than he could take. That was particularly true of the mental aspects â€” he said he felt a constant stress and that started we wear on him physically. He said that about 85 different ways. He added that the problem had been building and building the past month, leading to this decision. Take all this however you want, other people have other stories.
Among the things he emphasized was that this was not a problem with Kobe or with management.
â€œMaybe I took on too much, but nobody put pressure on me but me.â€
Rudy T. said he was happy with how the team was developing, and that Dr. Buss told him he was as well.
â€œI fell in love with this team and consider them my family.â€
Now the coaching search starts in earnest. I’ll post updates as the day continues and news breaks.
Update: One interesting question is how much say Kobe has in selecting the new coach. Mitch said at the press conference Kobe would be consulted in the same way former Laker stars were, such as Magic. Kobe had plenty of leverage this summer, when he was a free agent and everyone wanted to meet with him, now he is under contract and the first choice fell flat. I’m not sure he carries as much weight as some think.
Update #2: Tex Winter just interviewed on ESPN radio (710 AM) and said some interesting things. At the top of the list was that this team was better suited to the triangle than the last few Laker teams because it is more athletic. the other reason was, “No Shaq to deal with.” He said that Shaq demanded the offense always run through him, and that made him difficult to deal with. I think that may in part be spin, but it’s interesting.
Update #3: I have not yet mentioned the Jim Calhoun rumor because, with all due respect to former Daily News guy Mark Stein, this makes no sense. Calhoun just signed an extension and said he didn’t want to leave UCONN. Why would an older guy want the stress and grind of moving on to the NBA at this point in his career? Why would Mitch go after a college coach again? Unlike the Jackson idea, I can’t figure out a good reason for this to happen.
Update #3: Byron Scott has said he does not want the Laker coaching job. Damn, I was so impressed with the work he’s doing with the Hornets.