A Cheeks Fan

Businesslike young Pistons should take to Cheeks’ down-to-earth style

George Blaha thinks the time is right for Maurice Cheeks to be a head coach again.
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images
I’ve always been a fan of Maurice Cheeks. I think that he was such a fundamentally sound point guard and I can’t emphasize that enough. He was just rock solid for so many years in this league. I think anybody who ever coached him was happy to turn the reins of his team over to him, so I’m not surprised he’s getting another chance to be a head coach.

He certainly performed well as a coach in Philadelphia and Portland and I’m sure Scott Brooks would tell you he was an important piece of the puzzle in Oklahoma City for a squad that played in the NBA Finals in 2012 and was one of the best teams in the NBA this past season.

I remember people telling me that he was a great talent out of of DuSable High School in Chicago, that he had skill and intelligence and really learned the game as a collegian at West Texas State under Ron Ekker, who went on to become a longtime NBA assistant coach after his college days. I remember guys telling me Ekker was a walk-it-up coach then and that was really good for Maurice and gave him a lot of appreciation for the Xs and Os of coaching. He certainly played like a coach on the floor at a very early age for the 76ers.

There are many ways to judge a player, but he did win a championship in Philadelphia, he was a perennial member of the All-Defensive team as well as being an All-Star point guard. His resume foretold a player who could and would be a fine NBA coach. I always enjoyed watching him play, so I know I’ll enjoy watching his teams play in Detroit.

From everything I’ve heard about Mo Cheeks the coach – and what I saw – his coaching style, although vocal enough, was somewhat low key and easy to deal with, just like he was as a player. If you look back at his days in Philly, there were a lot of headline grabbers there and guys who made highlight-reel plays. Mo Cheeks just made the right play and went about his business. I think in that way he’ll fit in very well with the solid, intelligent young players the Pistons have, like Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight and even Andre Drummond, who for as young as he is takes a very mature approach to going about his business.

You look back at his first two stops, Mo Cheeks has coached rosters that weren’t necessarily always the easiest to coach in the past. He’s had some talent, but now he’s coming to a really intelligent group of young players. Now he’ll get to add another player in the lottery and whoever comes by virtue of all the cap space the Pistons are going to have this summer and he has a chance to coach a roster that will be significantly better than last year’s and be better still in the future.

I really like the fact that Mo Cheeks had the opportunity to be an assistant coach before jumping back in, to step away from that first chair for a few years and help an organization achieve a spot in the NBA Finals. Mo played in the league as a point guard, as tough a position as there is in the league in terms of decision making, and he was an assistant coach and then a two-time head coach before going to OKC. Then he achieved a lot of success as part of that staff with the Thunder. I think that’s going to do nothing but help him become a better coach.

This was a perfect scenario for Mo Cheeks and I’m not the least bit surprised he’s getting another opportunity. This could be a great situation for Mo Cheeks at just the right time for the Pistons. It’s a well-deserved chance for Mo and I’m happy for him and for the Pistons.