By Jim • 

Sports fan: New Nets coach a key member on Blazers' title team

In fact, his 2012-13 club made it to the conference finals, disposing of the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder before losing to San Antonio in four consecutive games.But, due to a few differences with the Grizzly brass, Hollins' contract wasn't renewed, which was, at the bottom line, a firing of the successful coach. According to critics, Hollins wasn't willing to embrace the Grizzlies' focus on analytics and advanced scouting tools to improve the team; he, in the minds of team officials, was too "old school" where statistics were considered only a part of the equation for evaluating players and prospective players.

So Hollins took the walk, then interviewed for a number of jobs over the last year, finally landing at Brooklyn after Nets' coach Jason Kidd jumped ship for what he apparently felt were greener pastures at Milwaukee. And, since Kidd made it known that he wanted more control of his team, he was looking for a franchise that would give him that control. Apparently, he has that extra clout Milwaukee.

In any event, the new Nets' coach was a key player on the Portland Trail Blazers' 1976-77 championship team, a season in which he averaged 14.7 points per game (17.3 in the playoffs). Only Maurice Lucas (20.2) and the great but injury-plagued Bill Walton (18.6) finished ahead of him in the scoring column for Portland.

Old-time Blazer fans might remember that Hollins was drafted sixth out of Arizona State in 1975 and made the All-Rookie first team in 1976-77, averaging 10.8 points per game during his inaugural season. For his career, which included stops at four additional venues, he averaged 11.6 points per game and 4.5 assists from his point guard position. His Blazers' number, 14, was retired in 2007.

He's been in the coaching game, with a few breaks, since the 1985-86 season when he signed on with his alma mater, ASU. A few years later, he began his NBA coaching career, assisting with the Phoenix Suns from 1988-1995. He also served as an interim head coach for the Grizzlies, first in the 1999-2000 season when they were still in Vancouver, B.C. And, in 2004, he began another stint as interim head coach after they had moved to Memphis, and in 2008, he was a Milwaukee assistant.

But in 2009, he was named the Grizzlies' head coach again, this time without the "interim" tag attached to his title. However, as noted, his parting with the franchise was not a happy one, and he's still upset with the Memphis front office for his ouster.

Still, he should be happy that he has yet another life in the NBA, another opportunity to prove he can be successful even without all the analytics and new scouting tools; or, he just might be convinced to go over the wall to the "dark side" and embrace the new technology which is utilized by so many professional teams across the board.

And, long-time Blazers' fans should be happy that one of their own, one of the 1977 title team's best, is in a starring role once again in the NBA.

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