BASN Classic BlackBox: Sam Mitchell Gains Respect In Toronto

Updated: October 20, 2007

A BASN Classic BlackBox Last Updated:March 21, 2007 SAM MITCHELL GAINS RESPECT IN TORONTO


There are different ways

of getting noticed for

Coach Sam Mitchell

being featured in


will do

On Tuesday the USA’s largest circulation daily did a glowing profile of the Toronto Raptors third year head coach. They had no problem proving Mitchell deserves as much and more. Which is why he is here in the Box today.

We’ll rely heavily on the USAToday profile and why not. No need to re-invent this wheel when when it can so pleasantly be ridden here. And as they begin, last season a Sports Illustrated poll of 428 players rated Mitchell the WORST coach in the NBA last season. What could be worse than that. OUCH.

Mitchell’s response ….

“You never look at yourself as the best and you never look at yourself as being the worst. That’s the way I’ve always looked at my life,” says Mitchell, 43. “I’m somewhere in the middle striving to be the best.”

We say what a difference one season makes

This year the Raptors are now 36-31 practically guaranteed a Playoff spot coming out of the NBA Atlantic Division. Here are some team stats.

” They are 10th in the NBA in assists (22.0), which leads to good shots. They are ninth in three-point field goal percentage (36.2 percent), three-point attempts a game (18.0) and three-pointers made a game (6.5) as of Monday.”

Which leads to these comments by Mitchell to USAToday ….

“We may not be the most talented group of individuals, but teams win. What we lack in individual talent we compensate for in team play. Put them out there one-on-one, they’re going to struggle. But when you put them out there in a team concept and give them some rules and principles to play by, they can get it done. That’s been the strength of our team.”

( you can decipher that statement for yourself )

We hear how new GM Bryan Colangelo views Mitchell ….

“The one thing that stood out more than anything else was he had the team ready to play every night.

They wanted to go out and play hard. For a large part of that period, (star forward) Chris Bosh was out, yet the effort displayed was impressive. … Sam has a unique way of dealing with these guys. Call it tough love, and it’s equally distributed. That gains respect among players.”

Tough Love indeed basketball style

and the players chimed in as well

here is Star Forward Chris Bosh

“He’s demanding of everyone, but he wants everyone to do well, and he does a good job of looking out for players,” Bosh says. “Sometimes he got on players and they couldn’t handle it. (Now) he can pick and choose his spots when to encourage people and when to challenge them.”

Mitchell arrived at Coaching

after playing in the NBA

and we quote …

“Mitchell averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds during a 13-year career with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers. He faced several setbacks in his journey to become an NBA player. The 6-7 power forward was the Houston Rockets’ third-round pick in 1985 out of Mercer University, got cut twice and played in the CBA, U.S. Basketball League and France before signing with the expansion Timberwolves.”

Want more ……

” Mitchell survived on determination, smarts and being a team player. He was unwavering in his efforts to instill those qualities in the Raptors when he was named coach, often putting him at odds with the players. He had a barrage of criticism early,” Hall of Fame coach and radio analyst Jack Ramsay says. “Now he has settled the team down, and he’s doing an outstanding job.”

Here is what the Timberwolves Kevin Garnett

thinks of Sam Mitchell …

“Did Garnett envision Mitchell becoming a coach ? Absolutely,” he says. “He just loves to teach the game of basketball. When you do something well, you have a passion for it. Sam definitely has a passion for teaching.”

Let’s hear from Pistons Coach Flip Saunders

who coached Mitchell when he was

head coach of the Timberwolves

and made Sam team captain

” As a captain and in the locker room, he wasn’t afraid to make players accountable,” Saunders says. “He always felt it was the responsibility of the player to create a successful situation and not create bailouts � blame it on coaches, blame it on the schedule or whatever. His basketball intelligence, his ability to communicate and his competitiveness” make him a good coach.”

And well let Sam Mitchell have the last word

( almost the last word )

“I would say I’ve changed more as a person … how I deal with people. I’m more easygoing. I look for the good in people. I learned to let things go and not dwell on it. Me changing as a person probably made me a better coach.”

So to sum it up

for USAToday

and for all of you

at a young 43 in

NBA coaching age

Sam Mitchell has

a Bright Future

Very Bright indeed and

thank you USAToday

for leading the Way

with your Story

Whenever you want to reach us with comments or better yet an idea for a topic for the Box …….

Raptors ” SAM’S THE MAN “