Gentry's History within the NBA Runs Deep and Continues with Kings
There’s a new co-captain at the helm of the Kings coaching ranks, and it is highly-respected and longtime NBA coach Alvin Gentry – who was announced as the Associate Head Coach on Oct. 7.
"I’m excited to add Alvin’s valuable experience and leadership to the team," said Head Coach Luke Walton. "His veteran coaching perspective will be a great addition and I look forward to working with him again to continue developing our group."
This will not be the first time Walton and Gentry have crossed paths. They have a storied relationship, with both coaches working alongside each other for the Golden State Warriors, helping lead the team to the 2015 NBA Championship.
Gentry not only has a history of success with Luke, but also solid assistant and head coaching stints with 10 teams across the Association. Gentry has worked as an NBA assistant or head coach every season since 1989-90, and he brings more than 35 years of coaching experience to the Sacramento bench.
Most recently he was the Head Coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.
In the 2018-19 season, the Pelicans earned 48 wins - the third most in team history - while also advancing in the playoffs to the Western Conference Semifinals for only the second time in franchise history.
Gentry has found success in his coaching stints with relating to players and building confidence, noting “you want to try and instill confidence from the start.
Anything that you say from a teaching standpoint, or anything you say that may be negative, you’ve got to follow that up with a lot of positive reinforcement."
It’s very apparent he gets that from his upbringing.
Born in Selby, North Carolina in 1954, Gentry was one of six children born to Bulah Mae and G.H. Gentry.
His parents were married for 63 years before Gentry’s mother passed in 2005. It was seeing his parents show a loving, nurturing environment that shaped Gentry into the coach and man that he is today.
His father never had the chance to learn to read or write, but provided for his family nonetheless by working in a bakery, as a janitor and in a textile factory where he didn’t miss a day of work for 11 consecutive years. Furthermore, G.H. Gentry was a deacon in his church for 67 years, while constantly giving back to his community, even when he had little.
It wasn’t just his father, but his mother also provided by working in a school cafeteria and as a maid.
It was this foundation that shaped Alvin's strive to excel in all facets of life.
Gentry told the Detroit Free Press "I don’t have one of those kind of heartache stories to tell. There was always all kinds of lovin’ in my house."
Alvin can recall his father saying "Treat others with respect, son. Work hard, son. Have character, son. Be accountable, son."
"It was very simple with my dad: Treat people the way you want to be treated," Gentry said. "It’s the same way in coaching. Some guys can handle yelling and screaming and some guys can’t."
This manifests within his coaching style, so that he treats each and every player as an individual.
"One of the things I always laugh at is when you see a coach say, ‘I treat all my players the same, from one to 12.’ Well, I don’t do that, because they are completely different personalities. I don’t even treat my three kids the same way. You’ve just got to think about who you are dealing with and deal with them on an individual basis, I think."
This has served dividends for him in the league. Then Suns General Manager and now Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr, said this about Gentry: "Coaching is all about human relations. I could find 1,000 people that can draw up a pick-and-roll or a zone defense. But how do you manage players? How do you relate to them?"
Kerr added, "...if the players trust you, they’ll let you coach them. They trust him."
Off the court, Alvin Gentry keeps the same ideologies as on - just not as intense.
Speaking to the Shelby Star, his sister Lois Hoskins describes how you only see this side of him come out in basketball games.
"His intensity, when he’s coaching, you really don’t even see that unless he’s coaching, especially when he’s the head coach, and he’s in charge."
His siblings would know best as they still remain as close as ever. It’s always family first.
"From Miami to San Antonio to Phoenix to wherever he happens to be," Lois said. "We have a very close family unit. And I will say, it has afforded us to go to a lot of places and see a lot of things that we may not have been able to see."
Lois’ son, Derrick added, "He’s still closely connected to Cleveland County. Every chance he gets to come home, he comes in the offseason. When they play in Charlotte, he tries to come to get to spend a day with everyone. We’ll grill out or do something. He’s really down to Earth.”
With him, it’s "I’ve got film time, and I’ve got family time.”
With such a strong presence and highly touted dialogue about him throughout his life, it’s no wonder the new Kings Associate Head Coach has had an illustrious career in the NBA and it continues today.
His coaching style should fit well with the system Sacramento likes to run.
With Gentry at the helm, the Pelicans played at the fastest pace in the league in 2017-18, following that up with being second in pace in the 2018-19 season, even faster than the Kings - who ranked No. 3.
Coach Gentry has proven that he is more than capable of helping lead a team to success.
He wants to win, and he wants to do it as a unit.
"...you have to be willing to work, you have to have good chemistry on your team, and if you can put all of that together, you put yourself in a situation where you create a culture that is going to be very positive and give your best opportunity to win.
Gentry remains one of the most well-respected figures in the league and is a welcome addition to Sacramento.