Knowing Sam, you’d think this interview would run about an hour long, but he was short, sweet, and to the point. It seems he’ll be the same way in his teachings, blunt and forthright, telling his guys like it is. I guess he spoke in a lot of short sentences on the floor. Like, a lot. I believe in the theory that role players tend to make very good coaches, being that nothing came to them naturally on the floor, they had to work at their trade and can therefore pass that on to their pupils. The naturally gifted basket-ballers didn’t have to hone their skills the same way, so how can they teach their men how to work for their skill-set? Sam I Am has been ready for this day for a long time, he was basically a player-coach his last couple years in the league. I mean, he was constantly yapping at his ‘mates his entire career, but in his older age, he seems a little more collected and passive, ready to spread what he’s learned. Cassell joined Coach John Thompson on ESPN 980 in DC to discuss how he will work directly with Gilbert Arenas, when he knew he wanted to coach, and why he’ll be a natural at it.
When did you know you wanted to get in to coaching?
“‘Bout 10 years ago. I consider myself a student of the game, I just enjoy the gym. As long as I’m in the gym, I’m fine – I don’t mind working. To get better you have to work, as far as basketball. We have some guys on this ball club who don’t mind working. Gilbert’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve heard about, and I’ve seen a couple times, on the TV shows and everything. I know Caron personally – he’s a hard-nosed kinda guy. We have to get everyone on the same page. That’s our goal right now.”
How is Gilbert Arenas doing and what will you teach him?
“He’s better. He’ll be ready for opening night. He’s ready. We rely on Gil to do a lot of things for us – not just scoring, but being a leader. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to show him how to be a leader. If you don’t know, you don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing something. That means you got room to improve and learn.”
What will make you a good coach?
“I was a guy, when I played the game of basketball, I wasn’t fast, I couldn’t jump, I wasn’t a great ball handler, I just knew how to get it done.”