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Feb 14 2005 12:57PM
MIAMI, Feb. 14 - Back in 1988, when puffy hair and box fades were hip, when players wore their shorts four inches above their knees and before body art was found on just about every NBA player, Ron Rothstein was the HEAT’s first ever head coach. Fifteen years later, Rothstein is back in Miami as an assistant coach.

But fashion trends aren’t the only thing that has changed in the game since Rothstein was at the helm.

“I think anytime you’re involved in a situation, in any business, where extremes occur, especially in salaries, it changes people’s perception,” he said. “It’s more challenge to pull a team together nowadays. You have 15 guys trying to work together for one goal, to win an NBA championship. It’s much more challenging.

“It’s a lot easier as an assistant, there’s no doubt about it,” he continued. “I sleep better at night. When you are the head coach, the buck stops with you.”

Rothstein spent three seasons as the HEAT head coach, increasing the team’s win total each year. And even though the money and stakes are higher in today’s NBA, managing individual personalities remains a coach’s biggest challenge.

“As Chuck Daly said to me many, many years ago, you’re trying to manage 12 different corporations and no matter what happens, you’re the bad guy,” he said. “Players win and coaches lose. It’s a lot less pressure being an assistant coach, and in many aspects, it’s a lot more enjoyable.”

During his first stint with the HEAT, Rothstein helped develop some of the HEAT’s brightest young stars such as Glen Rice, Rony Seikaly, Grant Long, Keith Askins, Sherman Douglas and Bimbo Coles.

In addition to being the HEAT’s first ever head coach. Rothstein also served as the first head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Miami Sol – an experience which Rothstein admits could have helped him in his experience coaching the expansion HEAT.

“They were incredible, and they were a joy to coach,” he said. “I wish I would have done it earlier in my career. When starting an expansion team, you have to develop a culture, a way to do business. We tried to express how we operate.

“They really helped me as far as working with people,” he continued. “I wish I could bring over their physical and mental toughness on a minute-by-minute basis.”

Or in other words, Rothstein wants the guys in the NBA to play a little more like women.