Opinion: Coaching stability has been key in Boston sports success

Doc Rivers has been in Boston since 2004.

Good for the Lakers this past weekend for not allowing Phil Jackson to (again) hold the franchise hostage with his reported demands for part ownership and travel requests. Jackson has taken multiple leaves of absence and schemed his way to millions of more dollars for over the past 12 years while inserting a great deal of drama around the title of “head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.”

Also on the left coast, we have Norv Turner, who has somehow held on to the title of “head coach of the San Diego Chargers” over the past five years. His situation is worlds different than Jackson’s, of course, but each and every season there is an ongoing soap opera on the sidelines.

Save for Bobby Valentine this past season, the Boston sports scene over the past decade has been unfathomably drama-free. We are incredibly lucky.

Yes, the Bobby V. saga was certainly a rough one. Nearly every day this past summer we had he-said, he-said dialogue between Bobby V. and a player. But it lasted only 10 months. Elsewhere across the North American sports landscape, we see these coach dramas play out over years and years. 
Here’s guessing that John Farrell will get more than a year on Yawkey Way. It’s highly unlikely that by this time next year, there will be another search for a manager.

Across the sports landscape, we see situations in which franchises are looking for a new leader as a matter of habit. Take the Oakland Raiders for example. Since 2005 the aforementioned Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson and Dennis Allen have all donned the cloak of “HC of the OR.” That’s six head coaches in seven years if my math is correct.

Here, the focus if rightfully on the players. We are long removed from situations like the one Bill Parcells had with Robert Kraft, in which the “Tuna” famously stated, “if you’re gonna cook the dinner, at least they should let you shop for some of the groceries.” And the Rick Pitinos, Joe Kerrigans, Grady Littles and Dave Lewis’ all seem like names from the distant, distant past. 

Doc Rivers has been here since 2004. Claude Julien has been here since 2007. And Bill Belichick has been here since 2000. Pretty damn good.

In sports, drama on the sidelines can derail a franchise. Most of the time in Boston, we’re on track.


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