I think you’ve got to give the Memphis Grizzlies some props for thinking a little bit outside the box. The team went out and hired former ESPN columnist John Hollinger as its new vice president of basketball operations. It’s a new-school move, as Hollinger was knowing for his Player Efficiency Rating, among other interesting processes.
John Hollinger joined 92.9 ESPN in Memphis with the Gary Parrish Show to discuss the reaction he’s heard since being hired by the Memphis Grizzlies, how his Twitter feed will change, if players even know who he is and how his new-school mentality will fit in with an old-school coach like Lionel Hollins.
Fans seem to find your hire intriguing. What’s the reaction been like from old-school basketball folks and players?:
“So far, so good. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with the players yet because the first day of work, you spend a lot of time just filling out forms, random stuff like that, and just meeting lots of people. … So, I’m hoping in the next couple of days, to really do that. I met some of the coaches today at practice, and that was great. … It’s something I’m looking forward to over the next couple of days, but as far as how I’ve been received, so far everything’s been really great. If anyone has any grievances about it, they’ve kept it well-hidden.”
You made a career about commentating about basketball. How much does that change now?:
“That’s going to be really interesting. I really want to keep up some kind of dialogue with people and use [my Twitter] account to do that, but I can’t do it in the same way that I did. The biggest thing is I just can’t really talk about players on other teams. That’s the biggest limitation. It kind of changes things, somewhat, and I’m still learning, I guess. … I’m still figuring out how that voice is going to work, but I’m still going to be out there on Twitter somehow and having that dialogue with people.”
Do you get the sense that the players know who you are already, or is this sort of a coaches’ and executives’ niche that you’ve carved out?:
“I would say it’s mostly coaches and executives. There are some players who do know me, and I know because they tell me. … But, I think a lot of them, you’re right, just haven’t been following me, and that’s fine. It’s not their job to follow what I’m saying. It’ll be interesting as we get into it, but I don’t know that it’s really going to affect anything. Even players that are aware of you and might be following you, their day-to-day interaction isn’t really with me, it’s with the coaching staff.”
On being a new-school kind of guy working with a coach in Lionel Hollins that appears to be really old-school:
“I think the biggest thing to look at is that people will always want to make the strong-man argument, that you’re trying to replace the previous knowledge. That’s not the case; you’re trying to add to it. If I can add things to what they already know, then that becomes really helpful. I think the biggest thing is, you have to kind of build the relationship and build the trust and kind of start with things that are more easily grasped and then try to move on from there. I’m definitely going to be available to help them as much as I can, and we’ll just see how it goes from there. He’s had plenty of success without me, but at the same time, I think there are probably ways that I could potentially help him, and once we start really working with each other, we can figure out where that balance is.”
Listen to John Hollinger on 92.9 ESPN in Memphis here (Interview begins at 48:20)