Suns coach is trying to change team culture
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
Lindsey Hunter is not trying to change a Suns player. He is trying to change the Suns culture.
That can be a soft concept to grasp and a formidable one to pull off, especially with Hunter cutting in on the dance during the song.
Mark Jackson makes Hunter feel better about that. Like Hunter, Jackson took over without coaching experience except for a long point-guard career. Jackson’s Golden State Warriors had made the playoffs once in 19 years. Golden State endured a fourth consecutive losing season (23-43) under Jackson last year with similar questions about whether he was capable and deserving.
Golden State is 30-17 this season and Jackson is now advising Hunter, as friendship overrides divisional rivalry.
“Mark has helped me through this whole process,” Hunter said. “It really shows me that it is possible to be successful and have a young team and turn it around and teach them how to be a good team. It’s all of what we want to be.”
Jackson did not have to take over midseason but he still had only a rushed camp after the 2011 lockout. Like Hunter, Jackson wanted a defensive emphasis and no nonsense. Like Jackson, Hunter has a chance at buy-in because the team bottomed out.
Neither had coached, but both Jackson and Hunter leaned on 17 seasons as a point guard.
Suns assistant coach Igor Kokoskov was empowered under Hunter to call offensive plays, design sets in timeouts and weigh in more on game management. It causes doubts about Hunter’s aptitude for the job, a criticism Jackson drew last year with assistant Mike Malone doing much of the same
This season, Jackson looks more in command. Malone might still draw a play but it is the one Jackson chose and the way he wanted it.
“Lindsey’s got a lot of experience in my book,” Jackson said. “He played for some very good teams. He was really an extension of the coach as a player, especially later on in his career when he nurtured guys. I’d make the case that a young Derrick Rose is going to listen to Lindsey Hunter (his two-year teammate) before he listens … [For more on Suns coach is trying to change team culture, click here.]