Burke a quiet anchor for coaching staff
Indianapolis (July 21, 2011) -- I have a confession to make:
I have taken Dan Burke completely for granted.
Since 1997, when I first met Dan, I've written thousands of articles, not even one about him untill now.
The thing is, I am not alone. For a guy entering his 15th season with the Pacers and 23rd in the NBA, Burke has managed to keep a magnificently low profile.
To wit: when you enter his name in Wikipedia, two results are generated. One is for a former professional baseball player, a utility guy, who batted a rousing .175 in the 19th century, when teams had names like the Boston Beaneaters.
And yet there's more information in that entry than the one for the current Burke.
In this overamped media age, when everybody's a celebrity, how has Burke managed so much stealth?
"You keep a low profile," he said. "Somebody had written that I'd been here eight years, so that is a low profile -- they didn't know I existed for six."
Be assured, the franchise knows, respects and appreciates Burke's contributions. Not many assistant coaches can survive a handful of coaching changes as he has. He joined the Pacers when Bird was the head coach and managed to stick around through the changes to Rick Carlisle, Isiah Thomas, Jim O'Brien and now Frank Vogel.
"He worked his way up through the video department and he's a hard worker, he's loyal to his coaches and he cares about the franchise," said Bird. "I think whoever comes in here sees that and he's got a good reputation around the league. That's why Dan's been here so many years."
After Vogel replaced O'Brien on an interim basis last season, Burke was elevated to the lead assistant slot for the final 38 games. With the recent signings of Brian Shaw and Jim Boylen, Burke's role has changed. Again.
"First and foremost, he's brilliant," Vogel said. "He's an incredible basketball mind and the kind of mind that picks things up very, very quickly. … Dan Burke has never been a head coach in the NBA but you wouldn't know it having him next to you on the bench because he's so sharp with game adjustments, reading situations, understanding timeouts and fouls and substitution patterns and the pulse of the game.
"I call him my conscience because every time I have a crazy idea I go to the purist Dan Burke and he always gives me the common-sense perspective."
Like Vogel, Burke began his career in the video room, breaking down film for the Portland Trail Blazers. He filled a similar role when he joined the Pacers eight years later but has quietly climbed the ladder.
"My first full-time job was with the Trail Blazers and the first three years we went to the Finals twice and conference finals all three years," Burke said. "Here I'm thinking it's going to be like this all the time. But every team happens to hit a little dip and we hit a dip and P.J. Carlesimo came in after Rick Adelman and I came here."
Because of his background in the video room, Burke's primary strength is his ability to scout an opponent and develop a strong plan of attack.
"He prepares very well," said Bird. "Whether it's defense or on the offensive end, his preparation ins excellent. Even though he worked the video room for us he did most of our walk-throughs when I was here and preparation is key in this league."
His name is not a household word but you get the idea that's next to meaningless for Burke. He has achieved what so many others have not, the respect that leads to longevity.
"I told my wife Peggy when we moved here from Portland, 'You know we're going to have to move every three years. That's just how this business is,' " Burke said. "We've been very lucky."