Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/8/14

Dear Hubie Brown,

As a professional announcer, longtime contributor, and close observer of the game of basketball, I’m fairly certain you’re aware of the struggles of our Portland Trail Blazers this season. In the event that you haven’t paid as close of attention, allow me to re-cap: after a 7-2 start that featured energetic and cohesive play, the Blazers have stumbled their way into a 13-20 record since then, including recent embarrassments at the hands of the Celtics and Pacers. A team that began the season winning games by their rebounding, defense, and hustle has, for most of the season, looked about as lively as half of the cast of The Walking Dead.

The team is not without talent: they’ve had convincing wins against the Clippers, Lakers, and Thunder, and close losses to the Thunder and Mavericks. They have almost twice as many wins by twenty-plus points as any other team in the league. They feature an All-Star (LaMarcus Aldridge), a former All-Star (Gerald Wallace), a former Sixth Man of the Year (Jamal Crawford), a former Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby), and a coveted doing-everything swingman (Nic Batum). They’ve shown the ability to move the ball well, get deflections, make key stops, and do all the little things that win basketball games. The problem has been consistency. And consistency usually falls on the coach.

Though he is beloved by many in the Rose City, Nate McMillan has been a mediocre coach; his overall record hovers around .500. More importantly, though, he seems to have lost the team mentally. He may be saying the right things, but the players don’t seem to be hearing him anymore. It’s no secret that his relationship with Raymond Felton has been strained this season, which has also affected his relationship with Gerald Wallace. The energy that “Crash” shows in a given game usually sets the pace for the rest of the team; so if you’ve lost him, the others may wander off with him. I’m not sure Nate has the ability to bring these guys back.

What this team needs is someone to reignite the spark they had at the start of the year. Someone who can re-focus them on the fundamentals: taking care of the ball, rebounding, shot selection, help-side defense, and the like. Someone with a proven track record and a solid reputation. Naturally, I thought of you, Hubie Brown. You won a title in the ABA and were twice the NBA’s Coach of the Year. And, most recently, you took what had been a frankly pathetic Grizzlies franchise to their first-ever 50-win season and playoff appearance via the same path I’ve sketched above: rebounding, defense, ball control. Heck, you even got Jason Williams to run a half-court offense!

Now, I know you may have concerns. You’re 78 years old, and had to leave your last coaching position because of the strain on your health. You also had to deal with some difficult players in Memphis, and the picture I’ve just painted of some of the Portland players may sound a bit too similar. And you’ve got a great gig, getting to enlighten America with your wisdom and knowledge of the game from the broadcast booth.

But just think: in this topsy-turvy, strike-shortened season, where 13 teams are in contention for playoff spots in the West, anything can happen. The right adjustment at the right time could spark a run for any team, just like the 8th-seeded Knicks making the Finals in the 1999 season. A championship in this situation is not a wild fantasy, but a matter of a team getting hot, staying healthy, and having the right crafty mind guiding them. You could become only the third coach in history to win titles in both the NBA and ABA, and you’d only need to coach 50 games or so to do it.

Coach, this opportunity has tremendous upside. Please consider it.


Nick Senz


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