Corbin Can Learn From Bell's Stance
By Patrick Kinahan
From replacing a legendary coach to losing his best asset only days after assuming his new job and being called unprofessional by a subordinate, Ty Corbin has experienced an incredible journey as the Jazz head coach.
And that doesn’t include the routine stuff like legions of fans questioning his substitution patterns and failing to make the proper adjustments during the course of a game. Just wait until the team has four weeks of training camp and a full regular season.
Fun times already, with more on the way.
Corbin’s latest headache comes primarily from Raja Bell, who ripped the second-year coach during the annual locker clean-out day that always comes the morning after the season ends. Bell was upset over ending the season on the bench, a move he contends stemmed from a verbal altercation he and Corbin had after a game March 9 at Philadelphia.
Bell was sent home from the road trip, missing a game. After meeting with Corbin and Kevin O’Connor, Bell started the next game and then played in the next two before going out with an injury. He came back late in the season and then was glued to the bench in the playoffs.
In an interview with David Locke on 1320 KFAN, Bell took full responsibility for his role in Philadelphia but noted that Corbin deserved some blame. He thought the issue was settled during the subsequent meeting and waited two months to air his grievances publicly.
“I thought the way I was handled by Ty was unprofessional,” Bell told reporters Tuesday.
Although he still has one year remaining on his contract, Bell believes his time with the Jazz is over. He said the damage is irreparable.
Which side are you taking?
On the surface, Bell comes off as a whiner, nothing more than another player upset over lack of playing time. At every level, everybody wants to play.
If this was Junior Jazz, Bell could get his father to coach the team and solve the problem. In high school and college, the solution would be to transfer.
In the NBA, you blast the coach. It’s as old as the wooden backboard.
But it doesn’t mean Bell’s complaints are without merit.
In taking such a hardline stance, Corbin set himself up for Bell’s criticism. If winning acts as the great deodorant, then losing brings out all sorts of foul smells.
It’s hard to believe that Corbin couldn’t squeeze Bell into the rotation during a 31-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the playoff series. As was entirely his right, Corbin chose to cement the already doomed relationship by refusing to insert Bell into the game.
Bell also never shed the warm-up suit during Game 4, during which the two players ahead of him – Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks – shot a combined 0 for 15 from the field. Predictably, the quotable Bell went after his boss the next morning.
None of it surprised the Jazz brass.
"I would probably say, 'Gee, that's unexpected (to hear),' " O'Connor said. "I would have never thought that would have happened."
And he’s also shocked that the likes of Kobe Bryant get favorable treatment by the refs during home playoff games. In other words, no he’s not.
Even if he played Bell during the playoffs, Corbin probably wouldn’t have escaped the player’s wrath. The problem is, by sitting him during blowouts it appeared personal.
In retrospect, maybe Jazz management should have stepped and made Bell inactive before the playoffs. Not that it mattered – to the impacted players, Corbin was the culprit for not playing Bell and C.J. Miles.
For Bell, there’s little risk at going after Corbin. If Bell had attached the label “unprofessional” to Jerry Sloan, he likely would have been blacklisted out of the league.
For Corbin, the situation is another in a long line of learning experiences. Over time, he and the team will be better for having gone through it.