Coach Muggsy: Fan Favorite Bogues Up To Tall Order Of Reviving Struggling Charlotte Sting

By Scott Fowler
Updated: August 4, 2005

It’s one of those stories with a great “What?” factor.

The news that Muggsy Bogues was the new coach of the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting spread around the Carolinas on Wednesday.

The person who just heard it would scream: “What?”

Then he would laugh.

One of the most beloved players on the old Charlotte Hornets just took over a 3-21 team that is mostly unloved and invisible. It’s an unlikely but inspired move — Bogues, 5-foot-3, as the leader of a bunch of women who are all taller than him.

Yes, it sounds like either a Disney movie or a publicity stunt. Will Ric Flair be Muggsy’s top assistant?

Bogues has never coached. Yet, I like this change. It brings flair and sass to the Sting. And Bogues was always a coach on the floor.

It can’t get much worse for the Sting this season. Its most recognizable players have either been released, traded or gotten pregnant. It ranks last in the WNBA in attendance. It has lost nine in a row.

Trudi Lacey the Sting general manager participated in the replacement of Trudi Lacey the coach, which was one of the few really good personnel moves she has made.

Bogues and the Sting have nowhere to go but up. Give Ed Tapscott, the president of the Bobcats and Sting, some credit for talking Bogues into this one.

Bogues, 40, had wanted to be the Bobcats’ TV analyst. The Bobcats didn’t want that. But they understood Bogues had deep roots and many fans in Charlotte.

So Tapscott invited Bogues to a Sting game recently. At halftime, Tapscott asked Bogues if he would be interested in coaching the Sting.

“What?” Bogues said.

Then he started laughing.

See, it gets the same reaction from everyone. But the laughter is delighted, not malicious. People will want Bogues to succeed as a coach, just like they wanted to see a 5-3 point guard succeed in the NBA.

At his first Sting practice Wednesday, Bogues told the players to call him “Muggsy” instead of “Coach.” But not all of them could break the “Coach” habit.

“Coach Bogues,” he said later, marveling at the sound. “I’m going to need some time to get used to that — and also to having to knock on the door before I go into the locker room.”

Bogues has three children. The youngest, 5-4, Tyrone Jr., will enter Providence High as a ninth-grader this season and plans to play junior varsity basketball.

Bogues has done some real-estate investing. He helped spearhead a short-lived effort in 2002 to keep the Hornets in town. He’s run a few basketball camps. Like many retired pro athletes, he hasn’t found a permanent career.

“It will be nice to be onstage again,” Bogues said. “I’ve always had coaching in the back of my mind.”

The Sting average only 59.4 points per game, easily the WNBA’s lowest. With Bogues at point guard, the Hornets used to score that in the first half.

“Fifty-nine points ain’t gonna beat nobody,” Bogues said. “You better believe we’re going to push it.”

And you better believe that Bogues — even after the delighted laughter fades — will improve the Sting.

NOTE: In his debut Thursday night, Charlotte lost 76-58 to Sacramento.