POSTED ON JULY 20, 2011:
Nolan Richardson is out, and he took accountability with him
Remember the infamous "Leave Britney Alone" YouTube video several years ago? The guy (it was a guy right?) begged and pleaded with America. Britney Spears was his idol and she deserved our respect regardless of the mess her life had become.
Don't you get the feeling some of our daily paper scribes are about one week away from a similar YouTube mental breakdown for their hero Nolan Richardson?
"It's not his fault! The players are to blame! The front office set him up for failure! Love him or else! Leave Nolan Alone!"
Sometimes you get the feeling the media thinks we are brainless. As if writing it is not Richardson's fault makes it so. Let's say we made a pie chart dishing out the blame. Wouldn't Richardson's section equal at least half the pie?
"While I am saddened to leave the Tulsa Shock at this time and in this manner, I am also very disappointed in the way we have started the year, and as coach, I accept my share of the responsibility," Richardson said in a press release. What exactly is his share? Why not accept full responsibility on your way out? Where is the accountability?
For starters, he never should have accepted the job. It was a terrible idea to hire him in the first place. An experienced coaching hire trumps a PR hire every day of the week. Maybe Richardson needed the platform to push his book release?
You can blame the owners (and they deserve plenty of blame) but if Richardson is the coach our white knights believed he was, he should have done better.
He won at Arkansas with average collegiate players like Todd Day, Corliss Williamson, Lee Mayberry, Oliver Miller and Scotty Thurman. His system worked in college.
After a season in which he traded players like cards in a game of Go Fish, the experiment should have been over. His system was ill-equipped for the women's game.
For an encore the general manager (Richardson) drafted two WNBA-quality players. Unfortunately, neither fit into his system, again. See the pattern?
For all his accomplishments, the fact that Richardson could not adjust his coaching style to fit his players' strengths was telling. Then again, he is 69. Perhaps too much was asked of him.
One writer somehow praised Richardson because the team lost their first game without him by 39 points. What a wonderful feather in Richardson's cap that must have been. "The team stinks worse without you." Teehee.
Guess what, they were his players. They were likely still running his system. Senility must be a bitch.
CamBox (the owners) are no angels in this fiasco. Their ownership skills (or lack thereof) can be easily classified into one of two groups. You can decide which fits.
Scenario one: They are completely overwhelmed and have no clue how to run a sports franchise. Exhibit A: The Los Angeles Dodgers are for sale. America clamored for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to save the day. The successful NBA owner and entrepreneur surveyed the organizations landscape and passed. His reasoning was the franchise was too screwed up in its current state.
Did CamBox get sold damaged goods by a WNBA commissioner with one foot out the door? Absolutely. But they obviously failed with their due diligence. One smart comment among the Richardson love fest pointed out as much. Why didn't they ask for a supplemental draft when Detroit's star players refused to relocate to Tulsa? Would they purchase a brand new vehicle without an engine?
Scenario two: They simply do not care. Maybe this is like you or me purchasing a shiny new TV to show friends when they visit.
Accountability is a must in sports. Watch the USWNT in the World Cup. Remember the Dallas Mavericks NBA title run. Great coaching and players were held accountable.
So last week CamBox released a statement regarding Richardson stepping down. Really? A statement? Where is the accountability?
Here is what Box said: "Despite the disappointing start to this season for the Tulsa Shock, the decision to consider a coaching change in mid season was extremely difficult."
He went on to praise Richardson as if the Shock missed the playoffs by one game last year rather than having won only one game this year. What is so difficult about correcting a mistake?
CamBox should have called a press conference. He (or they) should have pounded the podium. They should have taken full responsibility for an atrocious hire. They should have put the onus on the players to step up and respond to their new interim coach Teresa Edwards. Instead, no accountability.
Why should we care? You know maybe we should not give a rats' rear.
But here is the thing. There are some good people on this team. Some real winners who deserve better.
The other issue is one we warned about from the announcement a WNBA team was coming to Tulsa.
When this team skirts across the nation playing in cities like Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago, they are representing Tulsa.
This is why we take pride when the Golden Hurricane football squad knocks off Notre Dame. This is why we cross our fingers and hope Doug Wojcik can return the hoops squad to national prominence.
When the Talons compete in the AFL, we are proud because we know they will represent us well. When another Driller earns a spot on a MLB roster, we take pride.
Unfortunately, the Shock has been a train wreck. They are the laughing stock across the league. Other cities might get one glimpse of the Tulsa brand each year.
This is what we are serving up.
Where is the accountability?
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