NY Sports Day
Hal Bock

Bock’s Score: Dwane Casey’s Firing Is What’s Wrong In Sports

Wikipedia

There are times in life that you love to remember and others that you prefer to forget. For basketball coach Dwane Casey, those two extremes arrived a couple of days apart in early May.

First, he was voted NBA Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches association, meaning that his 29 peers thought he had done a better job this season than any of the rest of them.

Then, a couple of days later, he found out he was no longer one of their peers when he was unceremoniously fired by the Toronto Raptors.

Wait. What?

Casey took the Raptors to a first place finish in the NBA’s Atlantic Division with a 59-23 record, the best mark in the history of the franchise. That also was the best record in the Eastern Conference and second in the league only to the Houston Rockets. Then Toronto won its first-round playoff series against the Washington Wizards.

That put the Raptors in the second round against Cleveland and the best player in the world, LeBron James. The Cavaliers swept the Raptors as James dominated and four days later, Casey was dismissed.

Thanks for a great season, coach, but what have you done for us lately? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Casey leaves Toronto with an impressive resume of 320 victories, the most of any coach in the franchise’s history. That includes three consecutive 50-win seasons for a team that had never reached that plateau before he showed up.

In a statement, Masai Ujirl, president of the Raptors, said all the right things, thanking Casey for all he did for the Raptors and wishing him well in his future endeavors. And by the way, you don’t work here anymore.

Ujirl has been in the middle of this kind of turmoil before. In 2012-13, he was general manager of the Denver Nuggets where the coach was George Karl. Ujirl bailed out to join the Raptors shortly before Karl was fired, dismissed 29 days after winning the Coach of the Year honor.

Tough business, this NBA coaching.

Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Orlando all have coaching vacancies and Casey could surface in any of those towns. New York, however, is not an option. The Knicks hired David Fizdale to be their bench boss last week. He is their 11th coach since Jeff Van Gundy left in 2001, a dizzying merry-go-round of x’s and o’s and, for a short time,  Phil Jackson’s bewildering triangle offense.

So what does Toronto do for a coach? Well the Knicks interviewed 11 of them before settling on Fizdale, so there are plenty of candidates available.

Don’t worry about Casey. He has an impressive resume and is armed with one year left on his contract that will pay him $6 million next season, even if he isn’t coaching.

And oh yes, one more thing.

The NBA will name its own Coach of the Year on June 25. Dwane  Casey, currently unemployed,  is the favorite.


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