Tom Izzo to the NBA rumors will not die.
The legendary Michigan State coach’s name keeps coming up in coaching search talks, especially in Michigan where the Pistons happen to be looking for a coach.
But he did his best to shoot down the rumors again speaking with ESPN, which you would imagine a guy trying to get high school stars to come to play for him would like to do.
“First of all, I’m going to be at Michigan State,” Izzo said Wednesday on ESPNU’s College Basketball podcast… “If somebody made me an offer to be the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers that was so good that it would impress everybody, does that mean I would never say never?” Izzo said. “I’m not doing that anymore. I’ve seen too many people get stung that way.
“Put it this way: I’ve got a big-time recruit coming in an hour and if I was leaving I wouldn’t be recruiting.”
Izzo says he is laughing at the idea he would leave, but the people recruiting against him are trying to use that idea.
Izzo’s name comes up in a lot of coach speculation. It is known Pistons owner Tom Gores is a big Izzo fan and would love to hire him away. However, Gores should work on getting a general manager in place first, then let the GM work out who should be the coach.
The job falls to Erik Spoelstra, but the question still hangs over the situation: Who is the best coach for LeBron James? Who can connect with him, who can get more out of his game?
Dan Gilbert was convinced that man was Tom Izzo, something he said in his Sports Illustrated interview (from which we discussed some of his other comments).
“You asked about LeBron and what it would take for him to get to that [championship] level — I think it has to come from the inside,” Gilbert said. “[Izzo] is one of these guys who is extremely passionate and emotional, and I think that’s what LeBron needs. Mike Brown [who was recently fired as coach], as great as he was, he wasn’t going to have that one-on-one relationship like Phil [Jackson] had with Jordan. [Izzo] had that right stuff without having the NBA experience, and so we probably would have wanted to bring him some extremely experienced assistants.
“But then LeBron wouldn’t even talk to [Izzo]. Wouldn’t even talk to him. Those are the things we let him get away with.”
Izzo is a very well respected and loved coach by all Michigan State alums, like Gilbert. He is a fantastic, legendary college coach. So pardon my skepticism that he was going to reach LeBron.
To really get players to buy in you have to get their respect. Nobody could get Kobe and Shaq to play nice together until Phil Jackson and him Michael Jordan rings and pull walked in the room. You have to have that kind of presence, through precedence or earned in the gym with the team.
Pat Riley has that. He transfers it to Spoelstra (at least for now). Izzo is a college coach who has gotten good talent to play like great talent. But can he reach great talent? That is a very different question all together.
Gilbert, however, was in a position where he needed to take some risks, he needed to make big moves. Izzo would have been that.
Plenty of words have been put in Tom Izzo’s mouth, plenty of speculation on his thinking the last week. Here’s what he had to say himself.