Hunter's Path to Success Already Outlined
If rubbing elbows with greatness is any determination of how successful one could be, then new Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter will be in very good shape.
In the NBA, the self-described “basketball junkie” played under such luminaries as Doug Collins, Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens and Phil Jackson. But his brushes with greatness started long before then.
At Murrah High School in Jackson Mississippi, Hunter played for Orsmond Jordan Jr. In Jordan's storied career, he coached three McDonald’s All-Americans, eight future NBA players, won four state championships and even one national title before being named to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
Then it was on to Alcorn St. to play for Dave Whitney, a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Hunter later transferred to Jackson St. to play for Andy Stoglin, who was named the SWAC’s Coach of the Year three times in his career.
“I’ve always taken something from the guys I’ve played for,” Hunter said. “I share a lot of their philosophies and beliefs, and they’ve all been influential to me.”
As a 17-year veteran in the NBA, Hunter always felt like he was a coach on the floor. Now that he’s received his first head coaching opportunity with the Suns, Hunter plans on trying to combine the best of all of the coaching philosophies he’s heard over the years to create his style.
However, there was one coach’s approach that he identified with a little more than the others. That was Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown's.
“I loved how simplistic and detailed he was and how he made us do it the right way every time,” Hunter recalled. “I think that’s the essence of what we’re trying to do and how I like to see things done.”
When Hunter became a head coach, he knew he wanted his players to know exactly “what was going on” and what “we’re trying to do” as a team. Hunter believes that it’s that sort of transparency that glues together a locker room.
“With as many players as there are, everybody can’t be happy,” Hunter said. “But if you’re honest with them and you just tell them the truth, I think that goes a long way.”
Hunter remembers Brown being like that. Whether a player was the go-to guy or the 15th man on the roster, Brown coached everyone.
“I loved that about him and I think guys respected that about him,” the Suns’ first-year coach said. “That’s one thing that I always said that I would do. I would coach everybody.”
Finally, having inherited a team in transition, Hunter is adopting Brown’s philosophy of simplifying his messaging.
“You could focus on being a genius and do a million things out here, but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work," Hunter said. “You can be simple and direct and really clean your stuff up to make it functional and you can be great. And I think that’s what Larry was the epitome of.”
Since becoming a head coach, Hunter has expected most of the changes that has come with the position. The only aspect that he overlooked was the amount of media responsibilities that he's had to assume.
And if he plans on following in the footsteps of the men he’s adopted his philosophies from, then he can be sure that those responsibilities are only going to grow.
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