The NBA is all about its players. After all, they are the main stars of the league and the ones that ultimately play out there on the court. But there is a considerable number of factors and details that goes behind the on-court stuff, and coaching is arguably the most important one. At least in the eyes of most basketball fans.
Shaq's point of view
The Inside crew discussed Doc Rivers' statement last night, as the Sixers coach got bombarded with questions and skepticism about his past failures and blown leads ahead of Game 6 in Toronto. Obviously, Rivers felt the need to defend himself and share his side, to which the crew had a mixed reaction.
Kenny and Charles think that Doc has been in these types of situations too often for it to be a coincidence or the fault of the players. But on the other hand, Shaq disagreed and tried to make his point clear by stating that it's not about the coach, and all about the players, even saying coaching doesn't matter in the NBA.
"I keep telling you. You be putting too much on the coaches anyway. If we lose a 3-1 lead, it ain't because of the coach. It's because we didn't step up...Phil and Pat, sit you're as* down, let me go to work! When I lost and got swept, it had nothing to do with the coach. Me. All me. Because I'm driving the bus. Coaching doesn't matter."
Shaquille O'Neal, NBA On TNT
The rest of the panel vehemently disagreed with Shaq about the coaching point, reminding him he won his rings under some of the best in Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. Still, Shaq being stubborn as he is, wasn't willing to hear it, explaining how he never needed a coach to tell him what to do.
We have heard this from the "Big Diesel" before. He is one of those guys that is not really about the tactics and strategy but pure force and talent. And who can blame him? When you are as gifted, strong, and big as Shaq was in his heyday, you don't need much more directions than getting the ball down low and dominating.
But that doesn't mean that players who aren't as good or gifted as Shaq was don't need coaches. A good leader on the bench can make or break individuals and teams. That has been proven numerous times throughout NBA history. After all, Shaq, you didn't win in your early days in Orlando and Los Angeles precisely because you didn't have masterminds like Phil or Pat to put the pieces around you in the right place for you and the team to succeed.