Rick Carlisle has the uncanny ability to annoy people while instilling the belief he likes them, and has their back. It’s one of the biggest reasons why he has remained a head coach for 13 seasons in a league where men in his position don’t make it three years.
The star player either quits on the team, or simply goes to the owner and has his wishes met. Mavs guard Rajon Rondo is not in a position to go to team owner Mark Cuban and have this coach fired – only Dirk Nowitzki has that power. But Rondo could quit, or mail it in. He will get paid when he becomes a free agent after the season.
Whatever you think of the recent Rando-Carlisle f-bomb exchange that resulted in the Dallas Mavericks’ starting point guard being suspended for one game by the team, the head coach has this man’s back. That’s how he survives.
For example: After the Mavs’ win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, March 2, I asked Carlisle about Rondo’s much-maligned shooting.
ME: A lot of people make a lot out of Rondo’s shooting percentage. Is it a question of awkward mechanics, or repetition?
CARLISLE: Well, he was 9-of-15 tonight and 1-for-1 from three.
(I knew he was going to do this).
MORE CARLISLE: So when you say ‘People’ which people? You mean you?
ME: Yeah, sure. I see a shooting percentage that hovers in the ‘30s, or low ‘40s, and a free throw shooting percentage that’s in the 20s...
(he cut me off)
CARLISLE: Yeah, look – I want him to get fouled. I think he is going to make free throws, I really do.
This is why guys play for Rick Carlisle, and don’t quit on him.
In 28 games with the Mavs, Rondo is shooting 28 percent from the foul line. Rondo is a career 61 percent shooter from the line, 47 percent from the floor, and 26 percent from three.
No coach would ever lobby to put this man at the line. Carlisle believes that a guy who can’t shoot, can. That sort of public confidence is hard to ignore for a guy whose shooting percentage has never been great.
And whatever personality quirks Rondo has, it can’t be any worse than some of the other weirdos that Carlisle has managed before. He is a head coach who has survived Ben Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley, Deshawn Stevenson, Erick Campier, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.
Carlisle is the rare combination of player’s coach and a coaches’ coach. It is one quality that makes him so good at his job, and why - in this case - Cuban will pick the coach over the player.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760