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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Time to give Bjorkgren the chance he deserves

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I know many of you out there are tired of hearing me complain about the soap opera that is the Indiana Pacers and their head coach appointment. 

You’ve read my criticism of both the ownership and the front office of the franchise, and yes, I’ve received the emails telling me it’s time to let it go.

In theory, that makes perfectly good sense, but in reality, I haven’t been able to do it. 

First, the Pacers extend the contract of a capable coach, and then they show him the door a week or so later in stunning fashion.

They then refuse to pay market value for a number of proven, available coaches, proclaiming they’re better off with a fresh name, one without any NBA head coaching experience on his current resume.

My well documented rants about the aforementioned aside, it recently dawned on me as I was scouring NBA coaching statistics that new Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren has one thing in common with all those other candidates I preferred to see get the gig have. He finally received what Glenn Rivers, Stan Van Gundy and Billy Donavan all needed to make their impact on the NBA, which is the opportunity itself.

Yes, every great coach was once someone I never heard of laboring in obscurity, awaiting their chance to distinguish themselves upon arrival to the big show. Bjorkgren has certainly traveled a long road from high school jobs, to small colleges, the NBA Developmental League and most recently as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors.

Despite my angst over the Pacers’ refusal to pay the freight necessary to bring an established name to town, I cannot argue that this gentleman deserved consideration after being part of championships in the D-League and with the Raptors, and despite the glaring question marks surrounding the Pacers roster that may very well be his eventual undoing, it’s time for his maiden voyage to set sail and for old school NBA curmudgeons like me to sit back and watch it unfold.

I will give his tenure the respect it deserves and refrain from any “I told you so” type statements if the wheels fall off unexpectedly this season. 

For those of you fans out there who, like yours truly, felt he wasn’t the right guy for the job, you too should take a similar wait-and-see approach and welcome your new coach and his family to the community.

He deserves your support until he proves otherwise, and hopefully he’ll make me look stupid for being critical of his hiring. Good luck, coach Bjorkgren, and may your start here lead to great success in the NBA. Don’t worry about my second guessing both the Pacers and yourself. You don’t have time for that, as you’re busy writing the next chapter in your career. Let’s just hope it becomes a best seller.

Danny Bridges who preferred Stan Van Gundy, but wishes Coach Bjorkgren all the best, can be reached at 317-370-8447, or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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