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Friday June 3, 2011 5:05 PM

Meet The New Boss

Kevin McHale ready, willing and able to assume position of leadership

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - The same sentiment had been expressed time and time again during the duration of the Houston Rockets' coaching search: team owner Leslie Alexander and General Manager Daryl Morey wanted a leader of men; someone with conviction, strong communication skills, a bright mind and big ideas; a man capable of commanding respect, developing players, and diligent delegation; someone willing to dare greatly or die trying.

Lofty ideals, to be sure. They are attributes, however, without much in the way of real world application unless one also possesses the confidence necessary to wield them. And Kevin McHale has confidence in spades.

He carries himself with the self assurance of someone whose resume includes three world championships, a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the designation as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. But his is not a swagger bordering on arrogance; instead, it simply strikes you as the sort of belief borne of someone supremely at ease within the comfort of his skin.

McHale speaks freely and easily, with his Midwestern charm infusing every word uttered. It is instantly disarming, though simultaneously slightly deceiving because it also belies the intense competitor lurking within. This is, after all, the same man who clotheslined Kurt Rambis during the 1984 NBA Finals. There is passion aplenty inside McHale and he promises his players will both feel that fire and play with it as well.

He'll ensure they do so with confidence, too. After all, what good is a confident leader if he cannot imbue his troops with a similar sort of inner strength? While doing their due diligence on McHale's coaching credentials, Rockets management spoke to dozens of men who had either played for him or worked alongside him. Again and again the raves came crashing in. Two separate players even said the same thing: "He made me feel like Superman."

Tales and testimonials like that speak to the leadership Houston's new coach brings to the table and they are a significant part of the narrative which ultimately led the team to this day. In McHale, the Rockets believe they have the man capable of leading them into a new era; someone who shares a similar philosophy and is open to new ideas while being utterly fearless to share and express his own.

This was not a safe hire. Nor was it an easy one. But the Rockets fully believe Kevin McHale is the right man for the job. As a result, they feel comfortable sticking their necks out for him. And they do so in part because they know, when times are tough and crucial decisions need to be made, he will do exactly the same for them.

That is, after all, what true leaders do.

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