IN PRAISE OF GREAT COACHES
At left, Coach John Wooden in his UCLA
At right, Pres. Bush congratulates Coach Wooden for getting his name in Bucky's column.
Great Coaches Manage to Win Championships
By BUCKY FOX
There went that idea. A-Rod took the money and stayed.
So Mr. April will draw $27 million per playoff flop with the Yankees.
Meanwhile, he blew a chance to ignite the packed Hispanics at Dodger Stadium, where I predicted he would land.
Now ex-Yankee skipper Joe Torre, who did move to Los Angeles to manage the Dodgers, will have to win the National League pennant with the local talent. And he will. Brad Penny pitching. James Loney lining. Russell Martin mashing. Torres team will tear em up in 08.
So much for the Torre doubters. You mightve heard them: Joe won four world titles? Anyone couldve won with that Yankee cash.
To which I say: nuts. Sure, Torre was poor in his first skipper stint with my 1977-81 Mets. But once he went cross-town, he was money. Stunned the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series. Made the 1998 Yanks maybe the greatest team in history.
And really with what studs? OK, Derek Jeter at shortstop. And Mo Rivera in the bullpen. Then who? The main man was Torre.
This sneering at great managers and coaches permeates sports. L.A. is especially used to it, what with Phil Jackson also standing tall in this town.
His nine NBA titles rule. Yet many fans dismiss him as lucky to have coached Jordan, Shaq and Kobe.
The Jackson jeers get so loud, listen when he leads the Lakers to the NBA championship this season. Instead of lauding him for landing a record 10th trophy, some will grouse that of course he won; who wouldnt with Kobe and Andrew Bynum?
You see how silly this gets?
You could look equally loony waving off these greats:
Miller Huggins: So he managed the Yankees to their legendary run in 1927. Piece of cake with Babe Ruth.
Frank Leahy: So he won four outright national championships at Notre Dame in the 40s. He had Johnny Lujack and all those other Heisman winners.
John Wooden: You making something special out of 10 national titles at UCLA in the 60s and 70s? You couldve done the same with Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton.
Joe McCarthy: Four straight world titles with the 30s Yanks? Big deal. He had Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.
Vince Lombardi: Ive heard enough of his five NFL titles with the 60s Packers. He had Bart Starr, OK?
Casey Stengel: You mean the big mouth who produced five straight World Series crowns with the mid-century Yankees? Shut up, already. He had Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle.
Don Shula: Now youre going to make a big deal about coaching the Dolphins to 17-0 in 1972. Anyone could with Larry Csonka.
Bear Bryant: Now youre going to say six national championships at Alabama in the 60s and 70s are special--when the man had guys like Joe Namath.
Red Auerbach: What, should I light up a cigar over nine NBA titles with the Celtics in the 50s and 60s? Not when he had Bill Russell on the court.
John McKay: Four national titles at USC in the 60s and 70s? Shouldve done more with O.J. and Sam Cunningham.
Chuck Noll: So he won four NFL titles in six years with the 70s Steelers. You think I couldnt with Terry Bradshaw?
Scotty Bowman: So he ripped off four straight NHL titles with the 70s Canadiens. He better have with Guy Lafleur.
Bill Walsh: OK, three Super Bowl triumphs with the 80s 49ers. All he had to do was throw Joe Montana out there.
Pat Riley: Sure, his '80s Lakers won four NBA titles. Must have been automatic with Magic Johnson.
Bill Belichick: Three NFL titles and counting with the Patriots? He has Tom Brady. Wake me when he makes it six. Then at least hed tie the Bears George Halas. Now there was a coach.
©2007 by Bucky Fox. This column first posted Nov. 26, 2007.
You can visit Bucky Fox's website at www.BuckyFox.com
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