I went to a closed training camp practice up at Purdue and after went to dinner with Versace, Bob Hill and Bob Ocepka. So it was just me, my dad, and the three coaches. It was an interesting experience. I was 19 years old at the time.
General impressions of the three coaches - just as people. To be clear Versace invited me and my dad up to practice and then to dinner afterward. He knew I was a big Pacers fan so he was being very nice inviting us - so I wanted to like him.
Ocepka - one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He was seemingly interested in me and my dad.
Bob Hill - while there might be legitimate reasons, he came across as a jerk. Like he didn't want to be there, didn't say much. But I'll give him some credit he didn't act like Versace. (didn't seem Hill and Versace got along well)
Versace - He was a big personality and I used to love his call in radio show and later when he hosted a radio show in Chicago he was excellent.
But my impression from that dinner is hard to describe. He seemed very fake to me, like he'd ask me a question a legitimate basketball question and then obviously not listen to anything I said. But he wasn't mean to me, he wasn't horrible at all, but I think what bothered me more than anything is he hated the team and players he was coaching. Some of his comments: Tank is as dumb as a box of rocks. Versace hated Mel Daniels, he went on a rant about him. I forget some of his other comments, but he was critical of almost all the players.
More than anything Dick just talked and talked and while he was very articulate he just has that personality where he thinks he is the smartest person in the room. The more you are around him, the less you like him.
We did get some great tickets though.
JOB made me not want to watch the team that I'd give anything to watch any chance I got. I actually started not to care anymore in the season before and the season of his firing (until it actually happened). It was just so obvious to everybody that he needed to go that it was just stupid. I almost wanted Bird fired just so we could get somebody with the guts to fire JOB.
Yes we lacked some talent, but JOB's use of players baffled me at times. However I will give him credit for getting what he could out of Dunleavy and Murphy. I also give him credit for Grangers big scoring seasons, But Grangers defense suffered in the process.
JOB was the worst to me. Zeke is right behind him because he was just clueless about how to coach. The only thing I give Zeke credit for is willingly playing the young guys.
i guess it's safe to say O'Brien was the wrong man for the JOB :rimshot:
been wanting to make that pun for a while now
I'd have to go with JOB. I always at least felt HE believed in what he was doing, even if I disagreed with a lot of it. My frustration with Zeke was that he seemed not to know at all what he was doing and would completely lose track of what was happening, then spin the heck out of it afterwards.
Its not really fair to say JOB was the worst coach. His teams had the worst talent on them and he really didn't have much to work with. Clearly Isiah was the worst. He had talented teams every season, yet did nothing in the playoffs. There was no excuse to lose to Boston in 2003. We had a prime JO, prime Ron Artest, an All Star Brad Miller, a young and productive Al Harrington, and a still effective Reggie Miller. The 02-03 Pacers team you could argue was the most talented team we ever assembled. All Boston had was Paul Pierce and Antwoine Walker. The next season under Carlisle, even with losing Brad Miller, we went to the ECF.
I can't speak to Versace or Irvine, so I don't feel qualified to answer the question.
In regards to JOB vs. Isiah I'll try and explain how I differentiate them. In regards to the technical side of coaching, understanding the X's and O's, schemes, etc., I think Jimmy has real acumen there, and as such is obviously better than Zeke. On the flip side, Isiah is very good at interpersonal relationships. He's the consumate salesman, even people like SportsGuy who hate him walk away from a conversation liking the guy personally. So from a standpoint of managing people, getting player buy-in I think he's very good, and as such is obviously better than O'Brien.
If pressed on the matter, I think that in a vacuum O'Brien is the better coach, but Isiah did a better job coaching the Pacers. Jimmy's stubbornness was just unacceptable and unforgivable, especially from someone who really should have known better.
I've lived through them all, heck I've under Irvine twice (thank you Donnie Walsh) but only one coach has ever made me lose interest in the team. Only one coach has ever had me tell my wife that when there was something else on TV when there was a Pacers away game that conflicted that we could just go ahead and watch the other program. Only one coach has ever made me question the very basic fundamental belief in rebounding as being important. Only one coach has ever made my Son tell me that if he is back next season to drop our tickets down to just going to select games.
Jim O'Brien hands down for me is the worst coach I have ever seen.
Now I say that with the odd contradiction that Jim O'Brien may also be the most knowledgeable coach I've ever seen (maybe even rivaling Larry Brown) and that to me is why he is the absolute worst.
Jim knows, understands & can coach almost any style of play you can imagine. I've seen him do it. But he is so fixated on the one style of play that he forgoes all others even when he doesn't have players who can play it or some players who are better than the other players but can't play his style so he won't play them.
Now if you would have come to me 7 years ago and asked me who was the worst coach I would have laughed while saying the name George Irvine (I would have been laughing so I wouldn't have been crying at the memory) but if nothing else Jim has at the very least helped me get over my Irvine nightmare.
No matter how poorly I've thought about Versace and he would be the next worst one about this to Jim, at least he never once took to the airwaves to decry a young player’s good performance as irrelevant. I don't care if he was talking about Josh or if Brandon Rush would have had that game, you don't publicly say any player’s good effort was irrelevant.
I hated his rotations, I hated his offensive schemes, I hated his cliché use of "I'm all about defense" and I hated with the passion of a white hot sun his use of the big men shooting three point shots.
Now understand everything I am saying is just my opinion there is no science here, you can point out w/l records or whatever but I'm not changing my mind.
Only one coach has ever made it so that the P.A. announcer had to change the intros because they knew that the fans could not stand the guy so I think it's safe to say that I'm not alone in my feelings of Jim O'Brien.
Jim O'Brien has over 35 years coaching experience in college and the NBA. Isiah has never been an assistant coach ever, and has less head coaching experience.
let me ask the question: if Jim is so bad, then why did Rick hire him. I mean there are tons of assistant coaches out there. I would guess the lead assistant coach for the Mavs is very well paid - one of the highest salaries in the NBA for an assistant coach. The last two assistant coaches there are now head coaches. So they probably had there pick of really qualified coaches, and yet they choose the Pacers worst NBA head coach ever? Makes no sense.
I can't remember who told the story on 1070 about a month and a half ago (Wells or Kevin Lee maybe), but Jim had these HUGE binders of data on all these players that he'd have the video scouts put together for him.
The dude would seriously make a great color analyst for ESPN.
Ya, im only 22 so I can only speak from basically Larry Brown on and there's no doubt in my mind JOB was by far the worst in my time.
Maybe I was too young at the time to really notice a good or bad coaching job, but Isaiah never came off to me as being the worst coach ever like JOB did.
Also, my guess is that Carlisle doesn't want to go through the rebuilding process, either, which makes him a likely candidate to move on sooner rather than later. O'Brien also at least has some experience, yet is the perfect coach to tank the team with plausible deniability due to his rigidity once Nowitzki retires.
Cuban's plan is well-known - he's keeping a flexible roster not for a long rebuild, but to get another star to pair with Dirk before he retires. It's not easy, as this year's missed FA haul shows, but he seems to be sticking to the plan. There's no way Cuban lets Carlisle go before Dirk retires. And I would think Carlisle is on board with this plan.
Zeke always seemed miles worse than JOB.
JOB did a decent job, at least as far as win-losses are concerned, with a pretty terrible roster.
Zeke took a roster that could have fought for the championship under a good coach and turned it into a fringe playoff team.