In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, former NBA head coach David Fizdale joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss reflection in coaching and lessons learned from his years in the NBA. Fizdale was most recently the head coach for the New York Knicks. He previously served as the head coach for the Memphis Grizzlies and was an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, and Miami Heat.
Between 2003 and 2016, Fizdale was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. On May 29, 2016, Fizdale was named as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. He led the Grizzlies to a 43–39 record in the 2016–17 season, reaching the Western Conference playoffs. After a 7–12 start to the 2017–18 season, including eight consecutive losses, and a publicized fourth-quarter benching of Marc Gasol, Fizdale was fired from the team on November 27, 2017. On May 7, 2018, he was named as the head coach of the New York Knicks signing a four-year deal with the organization.
“I’m a strong believer in self-reflection. I try to instill it in my players. It was really something that was instilled in me as a young kid through my mother.”
“Before you start trying to figure out what everybody else did wrong, look at yourself first and spend time looking at the situation and saying, ‘What could I have done better?’”
“If you really want to try to build it [culture, relationships, trust], that takes time . . it really is important that when you’re approaching those circumstances that you understand those things take real patience.”
“This is what worked for me throughout my career . . you’ve got to be upfront and honest about why you’re doing something. But I do think it’s important a lot of times to point out how it benefits everybody, and not in just some vague way . . give some real hardline reasons on why this is good for everybody.”
“You’ve got to know your guys to a point where you’ve got to deal with something that’s drastic or something you don’t know how it’s going to go when you deliver it . . I think you just have got to take the time to be thoughtful and mindful and fearless and really . . have your evidence in place.”
“If players can see you have particular standards and guidelines and things you all commit to and abide by for the greater good . . and understand that, I think you get a lot of buy-in . . but that, ultimately, has to be genuine to you as a coach.”
“I think it’s really important that when you get a job or take over somewhere that you . . really take the time to know the people who are going to be working in that building every single day with your staff or your players . . and who are doing all of the grunt work . . that’s not glamorous.”
“Are you fixed [mindset] or are you about growth? We really tried to institute that [growth mindset] and practice that within the Heat culture.”
“Most young players . . if they got to the NBA were the best player on their team most of their life. And then all of a sudden they get here and it’s not working and they’re looking to you for the answer. The bottom line is it takes time and the have to get that it takes time . . to improve and they’ve got to stay with it.”
“With these well-coached teams and good ball movement teams with multiple shooters . . you’ve got to have a team that is willing to put multiple efforts together in a possession.”
“When you’re talking about a great player, he is an expert at his craft . . so you have to find that balance of being willing to listen and watch and study so now when you do decide you’re going to coach them on something, it’s tangible, it’s meaningful, it’s thoughtful.”
“Once you have that trust, then there is more back and forth because they know that you’re going to challenge them. But I think, early on, you’ve got to spend time really listening and watching and really trying to evaluate and strategize on how you can make this already great player even better.”
“You’ve really got to take the time to figure out what you can add to that person’s game especially as they age.”
[On interviewing] “The pre-prep is everything. You’ve got to get to know the people that you’re talking about, really understand yourself and what you’re trying to do, and to be able to see the common ground.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Reflection
2:30 – His Improvement
4:30 – You Can’t Rush Culture
9:00 – Logical Thinking
11:00 – Miami Culture
14:00 – Growth Mindset
20:30 – Defending the 3-Point Line
23:30 – Most Effective Role
26:00 – Echoing Thoughts
27:30 – Offensive and Defensive Concepts
29:30 – Coaching the Best Players
32:00 – Working with Dwayne Wade
35:00 – Coaching Veteran vs. Young Team
39:00 – The Impact of Pat Riley
43:00 – Interview Skills
47:00 – Conclusion
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