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Get to know Grizzlies Assistant Coach Bob Thornton

As the countdown to the 2014/15 Grizzlies Regular Season continues, it's a great time for Grizz Nation to get to know the great Grizzlies coaching staff. We sat down recently with Grizzlies Assistant Coach Bob Thornton to find out more about the man behind 30 years of basketball experience as a player, scout and coach.

Bob Thornton is entering his fourth season with the Grizzlies. Thornton previously served four seasons (2007-11) as an advance scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Thornton has served as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls (2002-04) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2005-07) and has head coaching experience with the NBA Development League’s Huntsville Flight (2001-02) and the Continental Basketball Association’s (CBA) Quad City Thunder (2000-01). Drafted by the New York Knicks in the fourth round (87th overall) of the 1984 NBA Draft, Thornton played 11 professional seasons, including eight in the NBA (1985-92, 1995-96) for the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Washington Bullets.

Getting to know Assistant Coach Bob Thornton
We’ve heard you’re quite the BBQ master – would you care to share one of your special seasonings or your favorite cut of meat?

I love to grill and cook, but I am only a humble backyard amateur… I do love trying all the wonderful BBQ we have in Memphis.

You’re also a registered pilot. What is your favorite kind of plane to fly?

Flying is a great passion of mine and I love to fly any type of airplane. If I had to choose from past experience so far my favorite is the Extra 300, a high performance aerobatic airplane.

Have you ever had a scary experience while flying yourself? If so, what happened?

The longer you fly, the more chance there is of possibly experiencing something unusual.  One challenging experience I had was on a checkout flight in a Cessna 182RG. The hydraulic hose to the landing gear burst while we were lowering the gear for landing. To make a long story short, after finishing our emergency checklist we did a couple tower fly-bys to make sure we had all three gear down then went around a final time for landing. Turns out we had enough pressure in the lines to lock the gear in place and a safe landing followed shortly afterwards. It was a great learning experience.

    Who is your favorite person to talk hoops with in and out of the Grizzlies organization?


    We have a great staff and we are constantly discussing options and ideas that might improve our team. Let’s just say we all have quite a collection of old napkins, scrap paper and old dinner receipts covered with new sets and defensive ideas.

    You’re originally from L.A. and you went to U.C. Irvine – were you surfing waves when you weren’t shooting hoops?

    I spent as much time at the beach as I could when I wasn’t working out or playing ball. It was great growing up close to the beach

    Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” just wrapped – how many times in your life do you think you’ve seen the “Jaws” movies?


    Too many to remember… The first time we saw it my friends and I stayed away from the beach for three days it freaked us out so bad!

    You played in the NBA for eight years, and have coached for more than 14 years. What is your favorite NBA city and why?


    One of my favorite cities is Philadelphia. I played there for several years and love all of the historical aspects it holds. Plus they have the best cheesesteaks in the world.

    What do you miss most about California?


    The BEACH!!

    You have a long history of coaching and scouting in the NBA, D-League and CBA. What is your favorite aspect of coaching basketball?


    I love teaching the game of basketball and helping our players develop and improve their individual games as well as our team-play. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch our players have success on the court using our collective experiences, advice and tools we share with them to help them become better players.

    We’ve also heard you’re a Harley Davidson enthusiast. How many bikes do you have, and do you bring your bike to practice or just ride on the weekends?


    I ride in the offseason primarily as much as time allows. I currently have a 2014 Harley Davidson Street Glide Special.

    Though you’re not an advanced scout anymore, do you still try to learn other coaches’ plays when they visit?

    Coaches are the best thieves… we are constantly “borrowing” each other’s plays and concepts and making them our own. So yes, we are always scouting and learning all of our opponents’ plays.

    What’s your favorite sport outside of basketball?

    Is there any other sport other than basketball?? REALLY…

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