The New Jersey Nets fired coach Lawrence Frank after an 0-16 start in 2009. But before general manager Kiki VanDeWeghe took over for the rest of the season, the Nets had Tom Barrise coach two games – the record-tying and record-setting losses for worst start to a season.
New Jersey putting those losses on Barrise’s record elicited sympathy for the interim interim coach.
It also made him one of 343 people ever to head-coach in the NBA – a significant distinction for someone who spent decades working in basketball.
Thibodeau opened his pre-game presser Friday with condolences for Tom Barrise, the longtime NBA scout and coach who died recently from cancer. He was 68.
“Just a great basketball guy,” Thibodeau said. “We worked together in Chicago. Just sad news.”
Those two losses with New Jersey stand as the only games of Barrise’s NBA head-coaching career. Afterward, he returned to being assistant for VanDeWeghe then Avery Johnson with the Nets.
He later worked as a Bulls scout when now-Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was in Chicago.