Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins made one thing clear in his introductory press conference at Barclays Center on Monday morning: “I just want to coach,” making it clear he will not be challenging General Manager Billy King’s authority, unlike someone that just forced his way out.
“It’s just nice to be able to do your job, and that’s all I want to do. I’m a basketball coach. I don’t want to do Billy’s job. I don’t want to do anybody else’s job in the organization but the one that I’m hired to do, and that’s important to me. I’m very low maintenance, and I’m actually embarrassed driving up and seeing the big billboard with my picture on it,” Hollins said, with a reference to a sign saying “Hello Lionel Hollins” on the Barclays Center oculus. The front of the arena had another change, as a mural with recently departed head coach Jason Kidd was taken down.
King said of hiring Hollins, “The process is quick, but I think in going through it last year, interviewing people and doing research and background, it made it easier this time to be a little quick. If you watched his teams in Memphis, they always played hard, they were disciplined, great defense, and they just got better every year. You saw the progress of Zach Randolph and (Mike) Conley and different guys, and I think that’s what we need at this stage of where we are for the Brooklyn Nets.”
Hollins said, “I’m excited to be here. I know it’s a challenge, but in order to have success, you have to go through challenges and overcome them and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity. I’m humbled as well by the fact that I’ve been out of the NBA for a year. I’ve been out before, and as one gets older, you don’t know if that opportunity will come back around again, and to have this opportunity is truly a blessing. The way it came about is truly a miracle, and I’m very thankful.”
Hollins said of Nets ownership, “Mikhail Prokhorov has the resources and he’s very competitive and wants to win, so he’s willing to use those resources for the right players so that we can have an opportunity to win. It’s New York, one of the greatest markets, and we can entice free agents, that’s important. When you start looking at the whole package, it becomes a very, very exciting opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”
One takeaway from Monday’s press conference was that Hollins is a different man than Kidd. Hollins is a consummate professional with character, as shown by how he talked about his life, his family, his faith, and wearing a lapel pin for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. One thing after the Kidd fiasco, it is clear the Nets came out winners.
Hollins did not coach last season, and was asked if he was worried he would not have the chance to coach this upcoming season. He said, “I have felt like Job a few times. I start wondering, and I say if it’s not to be, it’s not to be, and I’ll go do something else. I’ve been at this point before where I’ve been out of the league, and I just believe very strongly that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, that God has a plan for my life.
“Even in this situation, two Saturdays ago, this job wasn’t open, and I’m sitting at home waiting on the L.A. Lakers to make a decision, and if they make a decision the other way, I’m out of the league for another year again, so it was right there on the verge and then I start making plans of what I want to do. When I’ve been out of the league before, I’ve gone and done other things, so it’s just life.
This is a very important part of my life, but it’s not the only part of my life, and it’s certainly not the biggest part of my life. I tell people, before I was in Memphis, all those years as an assistant coach, I was happy. When I goit the head coaching job in Memphis, I was happy. When I got fired, I was happy. It didn’t change my perspective. I was disappointed obviously, and I wanted to continue coaching, but it didn’t change where I came from.
“People ask me, ‘how are you going to do in New York? it’s a big city,’ I know who I am. You guys (the media) aren’t going to be happy with me every night, I know that, and you’ll be kind of telling me what to do, I know that, but I won’t be listening, so it won’t matter,” Hollins said jokingly.
“Everybody has their opinion about things, but as I used to tell the media in Memphis, that’s why they hired me as the head coach to do the job and make those decisions. You guys get to write about it and second-guess, but I have to make the decision at that particular time and I have to live with it,” said Hollins.
On if he and his family will move to New York City, Hollins said, “I plan to move to New York City immediately, I don’t know where yet. We have a nephew that’s still in high school, has one more year of high school, and he’s had some issues that we had to put him in private school, and we want to keep him there. I wouldn’t want to move him, so my wife is going to go back and forth. Then, we will be here, we’ll be free, we’ll be what do they call it, empty nesters. We hope to get to that point so we can enjoy the city, but I’m here to develop a consistent championship contender, and that’s why I’m excited because this gives me the best possibility for that, so anything else is just gravy.”