Sunday, June 23, 2024

How Damon Stoudamire Plans on Returning Georgia Tech to ‘Prominence’

Damon Stoudamire fiddled with the microphone on the press convention earlier than wiping away the tears that had begun to swell up in his eyes. The previous seventh general decide within the 1995 NBA Draft and Rookie of the 12 months had simply formally been named the top coach of the Georgia Tech males’s basketball crew. For the primary time in his 15-year teaching profession, the previous Boston Celtics assistant is helming his personal excessive main hoops program. 

Forward of his inaugural season with the Yellow Jackets, we sat down with Stoudamire at SLAM’s HQ to be taught extra about his teaching type and the way he transitioned to the sidelines after 13 years on the hardwood.

SLAM: Individuals know you out of your NBA days within the ’90s and ’00s. What made you get into teaching?

Damon Stoudamire: I used to be in Houston and I used to be figuring out at Rice College. Once I was an undergrad at Arizona, there was a man named Chris Del Conte who was working beneath our [Arizona] AD Jim Livengood. He was the Athletic Director at Rice at the moment and he was the one who stated, Man, it is best to coach. He was like, We’ve bought a brand new coach [Ben Braun], go discuss to him. So I went and talked to him, and he stated he may convey me on. He couldn’t pay me but it surely wasn’t in regards to the cash, clearly. 

That’s the way it began, simply being across the sport. It went from watching practices to, Coach, is it OK if I come to your workplace and shadow you? Discuss to you, decide your mind? Yeah, positive. Coach, can I come to recruiting conferences? Yeah, positive. Coach, can I come on a highway journey with you? I wish to see what that appears like. In order that’s sort of the way it began. He let me get an apprenticeship—I’d name it being a high-level intern. I used to be doing that for possibly a month and a half, two months. Then the Memphis Grizzlies, who I performed for, had employed Lionel Hollins, and Lionel known as me to see if I’d be involved in becoming a member of the employees. That’s when the whole lot began moving into that trajectory.

SLAM: Once you landed with the Grizzlies, was teaching one thing that you just have been actively making an attempt to pursue?

DS: I’m nonetheless making an attempt to determine it out [at that point]. Lionel let me get my ft moist, so I used to be in command of participant improvement. I used to be principally figuring out with guys that I simply bought by way of enjoying with. I performed with Mike Conley. I performed with Rudy Homosexual. Darius Miles was on the crew. It was loopy, as a result of it was like three to 4 guys I had truly performed with within the NBA. And now I’m teaching them. So Lionel instructed me, I’ll always remember this, Once you’re prepared, we’ll provide you with some scouts. That’s sort of after I knew I wished to teach.

I’ll let you know one factor about me teaching is that I realized from a number of the greatest, they usually taught me loads they usually allowed me to develop. That was the most important factor—they allowed me to develop.

SLAM: At what level did you begin to formulate a plan and a timeline on your teaching profession?

DS: I by no means formulated a timeline however that is what I instructed myself—with my background as an NBA participant, after which going to school, that’s the very best of each worlds. That makes a person fascinating. That’s how I checked out it. The one timetable I set—I haven’t instructed lots of people this, solely a few folks know—was by the point I’m 50 years previous, I would like to have the ability to decide the job of my alternative. Whether or not it’s within the NBA or whether or not it’s in school, I wish to make myself essentially the most fascinating coach that I might be to the place if a job opens, they are saying, We would like Damon Stoudamire.

SLAM: How would you describe your teaching type now that you just’ve bought your individual crew?

DS: My type is just the way it suits my crew. You can’t say you’re going to play one type or one other in the event you don’t have the suitable crew. So that you’ve bought to see what your crew appears like. You need to see the place the energy of your crew lies. And then you definitely’ve bought to formulate your plan from there, on each side of the ball. My type is, I’m a participant’s coach. It’s a really feel. I all the time put myself within the place of a participant. Being a participant’s coach is being relationship pushed, and it’s understanding the room. And from the standpoint of who I’m, that’s my best trait. I’m a man who understands what every participant wants individually to achieve success and the way that matches into the entire to assist the crew achieve success.

SLAM: Once you have been employed by Georgia Tech, you and the Boston Celtics have been in Atlanta to face the Hawks. Inform us a bit bit about that weekend.

DS: It’s a 13-day highway journey and about 5 – 6 video games. There wasn’t even time to suppose, that’s how briskly it occurred. I get to Atlanta and I meet with the AD and all people. In all probability 5 minutes into the dialog, I used to be like, That is actual proper right here. We have been speaking, attending to know one another, making an attempt to gauge if it was a match. Let’s see if Damon’s persona, his demeanor and his type match Georgia Tech. So we go from that dinner to, Effectively, are you able to meet within the morning with the president? And that’s the morning that we’re enjoying the Hawks. We ended up assembly at seven within the morning. And as I’m getting on the primary bus, I get a name they usually stated, Hey, man, it appears such as you could be the man. They wish to begin dashing this up. So we get by way of the sport, get again to the resort and begin hammering out contract particulars. It was bittersweet, truthfully. However issues occurred so rapidly. After which proper after that sport in Houston, I bought [on] a aircraft, got here proper again to Tech, had a press convention that morning, [and] then increase, you’re hitting the bottom working.

SLAM: After you have been employed, you stated, “I all the time inform folks, until someone tells me completely different, I’ve by no means recognized a man that’s gotten a job that he chases.” What did you imply?

DS: Solely a choose few are chosen to speed up the method. However most of us must undergo the method. There’s a trajectory to get to the place we’ve bought to go. I all the time inform guys, You’ve bought to be affected person and don’t be formidable. Do the very best job within the place that you just’re in, as a result of belief me, folks discover that. I keep in mind when Lawrence Frank bought the Detroit Pistons job. I didn’t know Lawrence from a can of paint, and he didn’t know me. However I bought a name from him about becoming a member of his employees as a result of he had talked to folks about me they usually instructed him I used to be a tough employee, I’d be nice for him. For me, that’s one of many largest compliments I ever bought. For someone that you just don’t know to name you and wish you to affix their employees—man, that doesn’t occur a complete lot.

SLAM: There have been so many nice level guards who’ve come by way of Georgia Tech. Are you going to proceed that custom? 

DS: The purpose guard has been synonymous with Tech, and I would like that custom to proceed. However on the identical time, there’s been some nice forwards to come back by way of Tech. I’m searching for the subsequent Chris Bosh, Derrick Favors. I performed with John Salley in Toronto. 

For me, the most important factor is getting Tech again to prominence. It’s an awesome metropolis, it’s an awesome establishment and it’s an awesome basketball convention. I keep in mind rising up and eager to play within the ACC. The ACC Match was the most important factor for me rising up, whilst a West Coast man. Once I take a look at the league and the success the league has had over the course of time, it simply makes it extra thrilling for me to be at Tech.

Portraits by Marcus Stevens. Images through Getty Photos.

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