Getting to Know… Bob Thate

What are you most excited about to join this coaching staff?

“The opportunity to help the players, the team in general, make them better shooters, better skill players. Hopefully improve the players and improve the team’s chances of winning a championship. I really like David Fizdale and Ed Stefanski, and the people I’ve met here have made me feel very welcomed.”

How did your relationship start with Coach Fizdale?

“He was a sophomore at Freemont High School in south central L.A. and I was down there recruiting some players. After the practice I helped him on his shooting - I was the coach at Long Beach State at the time. Later on he was doing a camp with Scotty Brooks who I coached at UCI and is now coaching the Washington Wizards, and I worked with David at that camp on his shooting. Later, I bumped into him in the NBA and here we are today. It’s good to be back with him. He’s a great guy. It’s all come full circle.”

Who has served as a mentor to you along your coaching career?

“There have been a number of coaches. Gary Colson of Pepperdine University, my first job, he was really a huge mentor in my life. He taught me balance. There are high school coaches, Terry Hennigan and Chris Conlin, from high school, were great coaches and they cared about their kids.

What are you looking forward to the most about the City of Memphis?

“My mom grew up in Hairmon, Tennessee so I came to Tennessee when I was a 9-year-old boy and I loved it here. I’ve been to Memphis off and on over these past 10 years and I really like the city and the people, they are all down-to-earth with good hearts. I’m looking forward to my time with the people of Memphis.”

When you are not coaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?

“I work out every day. In my time away from coaching I spend most of it with my daughters, Taylor and Ali, their husbands, and my grandson, Colin, and their pups Bower and Bennett.”

Can you describe the sense of accomplishment you feel when you get All-Star caliber players such as Jason Kidd and Blake Griffin to raise their games to another level with improved shooting numbers?

“That’s my life, it’s the gratification of that! I’ll give you a quick story: I was at the Olympics [practice] in 2007, down in Vegas. Jason [Kidd] and I had been working together for about a year and a half, and I went with him and we worked every day, and I ended up working with LeBron [James] and Mike Miller was there too. Kobe Bryant was there as well, and I had known him since 2003 and I grabbed him and I said, ‘Do you know why you shoot the ball short?’ Then I was driving back with Jason and I couldn’t stand it because I thought what I had said to Kobe was inappropriate and I don’t normally do that. Jason said, ‘BT do you know why you are in this car with me?’ I said I had no idea and he said it was because, ‘We all trust you, we know that you are here for us. We’ve spent our whole lives having people trying to get stuff from us, and you just want to help us get better and you have no hidden agendas.’ And that’s my life. When I started with Blake, he said, ‘What do you want from me?’ I said, ‘Nothing. I don’t want anything except for you to do what I ask you to do.’ I want nothing from anyone I have ever worked with except for the gratification that I get from seeing you improve and the happiness derived from your life and you’re improvement as a player and as a shooter. That’s why I do it.”