Eric Musselman Named 2012 NBA Development League Coach of the Year

EL SEGUNDO - Los Angeles D-Fenders Head Coach Eric Musselman has been named the winner of the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award, as voted by his fellow NBA Development League head coaches, it was announced today. The Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award is the first of Musselman’s career and the first such award in D-Fenders history.

“This is not an individual award, this is an organizational award,” said Musselman. “President/CEO Joey Buss, General Manager Glenn Carraro and Director of Scouting Jesse Buss have done an excellent job putting together the most talented roster in the league. Additionally, coaches Conner Henry, Phil Hubbard, Larry Lewis and Clay Moser, along with Will Scott (video coordinator) and Nina Hsieh (athletic trainer) did an incredible job for us.”

Musselman guided the D-Fenders to an NBA D-League record 38 victories, including 21 wins in their final 23 regular season games, en route to the first Western Conference Championship in team history and first overall seed in the 2012 NBA D-League Playoffs presented by BBVA.

Furthermore, the D-Fenders, who are undefeated in postseason play, have a chance to secure the first D-League championship in team history as they lead the Austin Toros 1-0 in the best-of-three NBA D-League Finals presented by BBVA. Game Two of the series is set to tip-off tonight at 7 PT.

“Our players have been so coachable all year,” said Musselman. “We have spent countless hours watching film and working with players individually, and they have let us push them and get them out of their comfort zone. We presented challenges to our players daily, and they responded with energy, effort and enthusiasm. As a coaching staff, we don’t feel like we’ve worked one day because the group has been so fun to be around.”

In his first year at the helm of the D-Fenders, Musselman’s team held opponents to a league-low 44 percent from the field, led the league in rebounding percentage (.572) and finished with the second best shooting percentage in the league at 48 percent. He also coached eight players to NBA GATORADE Call-Ups, including D-League All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Gerald Green (Nets), Jamario Moon (Bobcats), Jamaal Tinsley (Jazz), Malcolm Thomas (Rockets/Spurs), Courtney Fortson (Rockets/Clippers) and Ishmael Smith (Magic).

“Eric’s deep knowledge of the game and his unparalleled passion have been evident every step of the way for the D-Fenders this season,” said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League. “Not only was Eric able to achieve a level of on-court success our League has never seen before, he was able to do it while developing top NBA D-League prospects into current NBA contributors. I offer my hearty congratulations to him on a season well done.”

The award is named in honor of the late Dennis Johnson, NBA Legend and former Austin Toros head coach who was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in August 2010. In his playing career, Johnson won three NBA titles with the Boston Celtics and Seattle SuperSonics, played in five NBA All-Star games and was named to the All-Defensive First Team six times. He served as interim head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2002, and was in his third season coaching in the NBA D-League when he passed away.