Former Coaches Share Memories of Hunter
After 17 seasons of playing basketball in the NBA, new Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter was influenced by some of the league’s greatest coaches. During his career, he played for Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, George Karl, Lenny Wilkens and Doug Collins. Suns.com was able to track some of them down, so check out what they said about him.
(On Hunter as a player) "He was a good teammate that played hard and respected the game.
(On being an NBA head coach) "I think Lindsey has a great background. He had a great college coach and some great pro coaches. There’s no doubt in my mind that guys that have played in the league and have paid their dues can be head coaches. It matters whether you respect the game, love to teach the game and care about kids. I get the feeling that Lindsey does that."
(On winning an NBA championship together) "He’s a hell of a competitor. We don’t win a championship without him and Mike James coming off the bench, defending like crazy and respecting the game. At the end of the day, if you don’t rebound, defend and play hard you can’t win. He defended and played hard, so he’ll get that message across."
(How he can help his lack of coaching experience) "(Suns assistant coach) Igor (Kokoskov) is a great ally. Igor told me that they have a good staff with good rapport. Lindsey’s been through enough games as a player. At the end of the day, players want somebody that will make them better, give them a chance to win and challenge them in a fair way. It’s not rocket science. You can coach pros. I haven’t found many that didn’t want to be coached. With Lindsey playing and being in so many different situations, I’m sure he gets it."
(On characteristics that stood out about Hunter when he coached him) "He loves to work. He loves the gym and I think he has a tremendous, soulful passion for the game of basketball. You can feel his deep love for the game when you’re around him. He’s played on championship teams, he’s played under good coaches that will help his development. He’s an intense guy. He made the league basically on being a defensive player, so I think he’s probably going to be a defensive-minded coach."
(On what goes into being a good coach and the coaching traits Hunter possesses) "Coaches have different personalities. There’s not one personality that means you’re going to be good. Lindsey has the personality of a competitor and he likes being in the leadership role of what’s happening out there. The personality of being the spokesperson of a team and organization, I think he will enjoy. His basketball pedigree is good. How he fits it together and were he goes with it will determine a lot of his success. I wish him the best."
(On what he was like to coach) "Lindsey was one of the first players I ever had that would come back to the gym and shoot late at night. He’d shoot for hours. You’d have to check the record books, but I think it was the Eastern Conference finals, I think he was 0-for-27 or something like that. There was a long drought of him missing 3s. I kept telling him, 'Keep shooting it, man. I’m OK with it. Keep shooting.’ I know he went through a drought. Maybe it was in the second round and into the finals. He was 0-for-something for a long time. No one wanted him to stop shooting. Everybody trusted him. He was putting in the work. The shots were there. They will go in sometime."
(On coaching Hunter) "The one thing is that he had an incredible work ethic, and that I knew was going to take him a long way. He knew the game, there was no getting around that. So it was an enjoyable year, but he wound up getting hurt. I had seen him play, so I knew what his ability was. I just wish I we had him longer while he was healthy."