I remember hearing about this movie a few years ago & thinking, “I have absolutely no desire to see that.  I’ve heard of two guys in the movie & if it plays out like the title sounds, it’ll be as exciting as watching paint dry.”  So, I didn’t watch it.  After a couple of months go by, I hear that it gets nominated for a bunch of Oscars.  I’m a big movie buff and thought, “Fine, I’ll check it out. Lame title, one really good actor & it’s got some action…bring it on.” By the time I got to the end of “No Country for Old Men” I was telling a buddy, that it was a good movie with one of the best acting jobs I’ve ever seen.  I had never heard of the guy in the movie, but his part freaked me out worse than any character has in a movie since Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.  What I learned after watching that movie is, no matter how many times I have heard the saying, “you can’t judge a book (movie & actor, in this case) by its cover,” I still do that.
   I’m the type of person that loves seeing the underdog win or a team go from worst to first.  So, I’ve been intrigued for the last couple of months on who the Charlotte Bobcats were going to get as their new head coach.  In my mind, I kept thinking that you have a young team, so you need a guy with experience that can teach these guys how to play the game the right way, motivate them on defense & to always play together.  In my mind, some guys that could fit that description would be Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan, Maurice Cheeks, Brian Shaw, Rick Adelman or maybe Mike D’Antoni.  When I heard Jerry Sloan’s name come up in the conversation I thought that they were on the right track.  He’s a great teacher, excellent judge of talent & one of the most consistently victorious coaches in the game.  I thought Sloan was a long-shot, but I thought the perfect fit was Shaw.  He’s played on winning teams for winning coaches, was assistant coach in successful franchises, he’s young and can get everyone on the same page…round peg-round hole.  As for Quinn Snider, I’m a Missouri Tiger fan & his years in Columbia are still fresh in my mind.  I can see why he was looked at as a possibility.
   So, when I woke up early this morning and flipped on ESPN to hear that Charlotte chose Mike Dunlap as their new head coach I thought, “Who?! Mike, are you kidding me? I don’t even know who this cat is!!”  I did some research and found out that he was an assistant in the NBA & more recently an assistant college coach at St. John’s.  I became even more dumbfounded.  I couldn’t believe that Rich Cho, Rod Higgins & MJ would chose a guy that has never been a head coach in the NBA or Division 1 college basketball.  My idea was that the other guys wanted too much control or money and Michael went with the cheaper option.
   I got ready, went to work, pondered some more and decided to delve deeper into the past of Mike Dunlap.  I found out that he loves the up-tempo style of offense that he picked up from his alma mater at Loyola Marymount (ala Paul Westhead), hard-nosed defensive tactics & superb player development.  As I continued to research, I read one comment that started to change my mind even more.  An NBA head coach that Dunlap worked alongside was asked what he thought of the coaching talent of Dunlap.
“Mike Dunlap absolutely elevates every player and team he comes into contact with. … He will take you from good to great. Name any top-level, elite coach in the game — the only difference between Mike and them is their address. There is no higher level of coaching ability than his. There is absolutely no one better.”

   That’s high praise from a guy like George Karl, head coach of the Denver Nuggets.  I don’t think a guy like Karl would give a stamp of approval like that to Dunlap, if he didn’t believe in him.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know that a friend can give a good reference for another friend, but if Karl is blowing smoke, then he should’ve been in “Half Baked.”  If he truly meant that, then maybe Charlotte found that diamond in the rough.  For the sake of the organization, the city, the fans and the players…I hope they’re right.  They should get kudos, at least, for not judging a book by its cover.
   Just like I was wrong to judge “No Country for Old Men” as a mind-numbing waste of 3 hours and to think that it wasn’t worth watching because I’ve never heard of Javier Barden, I was wrong to judge the decision to hire Mike Dunlap as quickly as I did without checking out the facts.  What if an executive would’ve said, “Hire him?  He’s been an assistant coach the last couple of years.  Yeah, he played in the NBA, but he was a hippie and he’s got some weird methods & beliefs.  No, I don’t think Phil Jackson is the right fit for Chicago.”  What if the NBA was as harsh of a critic as we are?  Where would the League be?