Pacers coach Frank Vogel wins No. 100
by Bob Kravitz, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — Admittedly, 100 is a humble number. For a solid NBA coach, it’s two, maybe two and a half years of good work. But Frank Vogel’s 100 wins, which he earned with the Indiana Pacers’ 97-92 victory Sunday vs. the Chicago Bulls, is significant as an early milestone in what promises to be a long and terrific coaching career.
How lucky did the Pacers get when they plucked the no-name assistant off Jim O’Brien’s 2½ years ago and made him an interim head coach?
And how fortunate does Vogel feel after starting his career as a Division III point guard at tiny Juniata (Pa.), then heading to Kentucky, where he talked his way into a job as a manager?
“I never could have imagined I would be in this position,” Vogel said. “Just getting the opportunity to be a head coach, that’s so rare. And then to have such a good and ready basketball team, that’s an absolute blessing.”
Vogel, 39, is a rising star in the business, a come-from-nowhere guy — well, Jersey, actually — who has a chance to be a long-term answer for this franchise. The Pacers were smart enough to extend his contract earlier in the year, and after a chorus line of three- and four-year stays by previous Pacers coaches, Vogel has shown he can be the rarest of all birds: An NBA coach with staying power.
In 2½ years, his winning percentage is .608, behind only Larry Bird in the history of the franchise.
Once upon a time, Vogel spun a basketball on his toothbrush as a part of David Letterman’s “Stupid Human Tricks.” But his greatest trick, came when he reinvigorated a moribund locker room and led the Pacers to a 20-18 finish and a good showing in a series against the Chicago Bulls.
He changed the culture almost overnight, infusing the team with a newfound passion and direction.
“The first thing he did was preach positivity,” said Danny Granger, who left Sunday’s game early with knee soreness. “At first, honestly, a lot of people didn’t believe it, but then we started playing the way he wanted us to … [For more on Pacers coach Frank Vogel wins No. 100, click here.]