David Thorpe

Website – https://coachdavidthorpe.com/  https://www.truehoop.com/

Twitter – @coachthorpe

Email – coachthorpe@gmail.com

Coach David Thorpe has been coaching/teaching/inspiring players from all levels of basketball for over three decades. Thorpe started his coaching career at the high school level at Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1993 he left “team coaching” by opening the first specialized player development program in the country, producing high-level major college prospects by 1994. It spawned a global business where now in every city in the basketball-playing world there are families working with private coaches.

Six years later Thorpe moved from helping high school and college players to NBA players and professionals playing overseas. Coach Thorpe has helped his players earn salaries amounting to over a billion dollars in the past 19 years, and the list of players he has worked with closely have been NBA All-Stars, World Champions, European League Champions, Asian Champions (China), and Olympians representing 6 different countries. He is both skills and life coach to many of them, as he is to some successful head coaches and executives in the NBA and Europe.

Coach Thorpe served as a lead NBA analyst for ESPN.COM for 10 years, stepping way to pursue more consulting and speaking opportunities in the business and sports communities, then partnering to create TrueHoop.com with respected journalist Henry Abbott. He still can be heard weekly on many of the top NBA podcasts and radio programs such as “The Lowe Post” (ESPN), NBA Radio on Sirius/XM, and “The Full 48” along with TrueHoop’s BRING IT IN three times a week, where NBA Head Coaches/Executives and an assortment of best-selling authors and other influencers on our culture today appear.

Coach Thorpe published his first book, Basketball is Jazz: Stories and Lessons From a Basketball Lifer in February 2017.

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You will definitely want to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Coach David Thorpe from TrueHoop.com

What We Discuss with David Thorpe

  • Playing for a high school coach who was a Bob Knight disciple
  • Getting his first opportunity as a high jv/varsity assistant coach after graduating from Florida
  • His early strengths as a coach – being able to manage his emotions and loving his players
  • “We are first in the business to inspire.”
  • Being adaptable as a coach
  • Dean Smith’s “Multiple Attacks for Winning Basketball”
  • Working Five-Star and the B/C Camps as a young coach
  • His mentors Lon Kruger and Ron Stewart
  • “If you can help them play better, it certainly helps, but if you also see them as people and try to inspire them to do better and to want more, to be ambitious about life, not just basketball.”
  • The reasons why he never became a college coach even though he had opportunities to do so
  • Coaching great players like Vince Carter, Stephon Marbury, Tim Thomas & Jerry Stackhouse at Five-Star
  • “Our only job as coaches/parents should be to help our players fall in love with the game, because the game is so hard.”
  • “I don’t think just playing games is enough and I don’t think just skill training is enough.”
  • “I think everyone’s doing it wrong. They’re focused so much on the skill development and not game development.”
  • “I just think it’s harder to teach someone how to play once you get to that level than it is to teach someone who knows how to play more skills.”
  • The need to understand the we part of the game not the me part
  • “The players who find joy mostly from the me aspect of it are being robbed of the chance to love the we aspect of the game.”
  • “As a a dad we do the best we can and we try to learn all the time, but we’re never really sure.”
  • “Help me be a better dad by just telling me what I’m screwing up.”
  • “You can tell me anything, but you don’t have to tell me.”
  • “I stopped going to my son’s practices the last couple of years to give him that space, hoping that one day he would come back to me and we’d be best friends for life.”
  • Finding a balance in how much to push and be involved in your kids’ sporting lives
  • “The average person doesn’t understand the level of commitment to the game.”
  • “We can’t make our kids love anything.”
  • How he got started training local high school in Clearwater, Florida
  • The opportunity to prepare players for the NBA Draft for agent Lon Babby
  • Working with Udonis Haslem as a young player
  • Why skilled players that don’t know how to play are so dangerous
  • “I think players need to play a lot more and they need to play a lot more without mom and dad or coach watching.”
  • Embrace the suckiness required to get better
  • “Don’t attach emotion to the suck part. Just get better.”
  • Players too often stick with what they can do and they don’t develop what they can’t do
  • “We have to stop with the egos and the pride and see the big picture.”
  • His thoughts on the Harden/Simmons trade
  • The Cavs’ outlook with Caris LeVert
  • Why he loves Evan Mobley and considers him to be Tim Duncan 2.0

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle this afternoon, but I am pleased to be joined by coach David Thorpe from TrueHoop. David, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

David Thorpe: Hey, thanks for having me.

Mike Klinzing: Absolutely excited to have you on. I want to dive into all the things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball.

And then at the very end, we’ll jump into some current NBA stuff. Let’s start by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about your first experiences with the game of basketball. What made you fall in love with it?

[00:00:30] David Thorpe:  Yeah, I started playing in 1974. I was nine years old and my family had moved to Seminole, Florida, which is a suburb of St. Pete. St. Pete Clearwater area. And I played for the junior Warhawks association and apparently I was pretty good and I don’t remember a whole lot, but by the time I was 13, I was it was, I was making the kind of all star teams stuff that we had for people that age. And that was really small.

And then I started playing in high school. Our high school was right next door to where the league was and played three years of high school my last three years there. And then in college at Florida, the guy played for in high school was an excellent general fundamental coach. He was Bobby Knight was like his idol.

They were friends, so we were all Indiana Hoosier fans. And when the movie Hoosiers came out, we recognized every drill. And so he was really not a good coach. In terms of game management, he had no idea how to inspire anyone. I wrote a book you may know about in 2017 and in the 275 pages that I wrote and published, he was not in any of it because he deserved nothing.

But I definitely learned some toughness from that program and, and some basic fundamentals of man defense. Cause that’s all we ever played. And So, yeah, I liked it a lot, but in reality I wasn’t going to be in my profession. I graduated college. I could have been a manager for the Gators, a really close friend of mine was manager.

By the time I was, I didn’t do it by the time I was a senior. Some people ask me maybe to try to walk on. I ended up growing and having some size at point guard and could shoot and pass. But I had no interest in it really. I didn’t want to work that hard. I didn’t know any better. And it’s just dumb luck that I found this as a career because I graduated college was going to go off to grad school or take a job as a writer covering football actually.

And I was offered a local coaching job high school, JV assistant, varsity job. And I said, yes, just because I had nothing else to do. I was living in the beach that summer just, just graduated Florida in 1987 from college. Met a super hot blonde that summer at a place I took for summer employment.

And she was just starting her sophomore year of college locally. And I thought, you know what, maybe I’ll keep this coaching job and see if I can’t get this girl to date me. So I ultimately got her to date me in October of 87, right when I started coaching. And we’ll be married 32 years in August.

So I chose wisely.  Nice work. Yeah. I chose wisely with the girl. And once I started coaching, I realized pretty quickly, oh, I like this. I think I can probably do okay with this. And, and that’s how I got into it.

[00:03:21] Mike Klinzing: Who was the person that gave you that first opportunity?

[00:03:24] David Thorpe: His name is Mike McFerrin.

He died a number of years ago. Mike had been the girl’s coach at Seminole high school where I was a student. And he had coached before. In fact, I think one year he, he had what sports soldiers. It was the tallest team in the country in high school Gulf high school in Newport Richey, Florida.

But the school he took over at Dixie Hollins in St. Pete, which is now called Holland’s high school was very athletic and had, had produced some very good high major players. And but he had no idea how to coach a man to man. So he now coaching boys for the first time in years had called my old high school coach and said, Hey, I need some of that played for you so they can teach these athletes.

Man, the man that my old high school coach called my dad and my brothers were still playing at the high school. I was the oldest one and had been playing and said, Hey, what is David doing? I always thought it could be a coach and there’s a job open. So that’s how it happened. So I talked to coach Mixer.

Who was not a very good X & O guy, but a fantastic person. And very quickly realized I probably knew a lot more about the game than he did. He could not have been a better mentor. He let me kind of run the varsity. And then over the next five years, he got a little sick. We didn’t know what it was.

We thought it was just some back problems. I, within I think a decade, he had died of lung cancer and that’s what it was, but we didn’t know it. Then all we knew was I was able to kind of run practice. I totally was in charge of the defense, the JV program was mine. I coached all the varsity guys every summer.

I traveled the country, working camps and everything really made it a point of doing that. And Mike, let me do all of it. And I, yeah, I mentioned it in my book. I asked, I mentioned to people at the beginning of the book in an honor, one was my wife and the other was coach mixon who had already passed at that point.

[00:05:22] Mike Klinzing: When you think back to that time, what was it about coaching right away that you love that you were like, man, this is what I got to do for the rest of my life.

[00:05:31] David Thorpe: The couple of things. So I remember, so it was probably November of 1987, we coached our first game. We had played a team that we had, we had heard was really good Northeast high school, that varsity with a top 10 of the state varsity.

In fact, that year they lost in the final four at the highest what we are in the highest classification foray back then in Florida and our team beat theirs and overtime. And I remember being really calm during overtime and as we walked off the court, I can still picture this on my head. I definitely thought, well, I didn’t, I really had no idea what I was good at anything.

Apparently I was a decent writer because I was offered a writing job at 22, which is pretty. But I thought I, I probably could do this because I seem to manage my emotions pretty well. And then very quickly I learned to love my players really, really loved them. And so that probably was the initial thing.

Over time, I started realizing we all have different brains, my brain is nothing special in, in most cases, but basketball makes a lot of sense to me. I can see it and pretty much read it. Over the years, people joke that I kind of see the matrix with it. I think it’s just experience.

And I also know how to inspire people, which is what we’re in the business. First and foremost, I think, as I wrote in my book, I mean, on page one, we are first in the business to inspire. So I’m pretty good at that. And I always have liked doing that. I’ve gotten better at it. I used to just yell and scream and I thought that was the answer.

I don’t mean negatively. I also yelled positive. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to raise my voice to inspire people. And so those kinds of things all coalesced into something that I thought I can do this,

[00:07:17] Mike Klinzing: Something that you were not very good at when you started and now you look back and you’re like, man, I wasn’t very good at that.

But over time you improved and got better.

[00:07:26] David Thorpe: I mean, I didn’t have any kind of developed philosophy. It was more hodgepodge. So for example, there was no way I was ever going to play zone my first five years as a coach. And because my high school coach didn’t write, even though I pressed and he didn’t press and we denied all passes ball side and we didn’t do that when I was in high school.

It’s a super silly, it’s actually a very silly frame of mind to have, if we’re trying to win basketball games. And over the years I developed a much more nuanced philosophy. Player development slash winning games. There’s a give and take to it that ultimately is nothing but a take because if you do a good job, developing your players and maybe losing some early will later on in their careers, you’re not going to be losing, you’re going to be winning and you’re still developing.

So I’m happy to tell you that I definitely employed zone many times over the years as a, as an older man, mostly at this point, I’m coaching my son’s AAU teams. And we built out, oh, I think we had 36 different types of defense we could employ. And this was when they were in sixth grade with real easy calls.

I made up this whole system. I still have it. I give it out all the time to people. And zones are a big part of it or zone principals in some cases are a big part of it. And I didn’t do that back then. I was just I was more ideological and less pragmatic and scientific, and I got better at the kind of the art and the science of coaching.

[00:08:54] Mike Klinzing: Where’d you go to learn the game? Because obviously as a young coach, I think a lot of us are guilty of this. You kind of do, as you said, what your high school coach did, or if you’re a college player, you do what your college coach did. I know my first coaching job, I was coaching JV basketball and my entire philosophy was based off of the drills I did as a player when I was in high school and the same thing as a college player.

So where’d you go to develop yourself as a coach? Did you go to obviously video is a lot harder to get back in those days? Certainly not the way we can get to it today, but just, was it mentors? Was it going to watch other practices? Was it reading where’d you go to learn the game?

[00:09:30] David Thorpe: I mean, is one of the most important questions you could ask anyone?

The very first thing I did when I got the job and St. Pete nights, 87 was CXoach McFerrin, gave me a book called Dean Smith’s Multiple attacks for winning basketball, something like that. I have the book and it’s right behind me, my office here. And on page one of that book, Page one, literally page one Dean Smith wrote this was I think, written in late sixties that the, the most, the most, what he wants most in an offensive, but that’s just to go to the free throw line.

So he was analytical or adopting advanced analytics in the sixties. Right. And so that really influenced me a lot. I have a library of video tapes in my office here next to my house. I have a library of books that are 60, 70 strong pamphlets work books. I definitely did all of that.

I was very lucky to, and that I had, we were very good. I had great, great players, including a future pro, a long-time pro and that played for us in high school for four years. And so because of that, I got to pick the brain on lots of college coaches, cause they were always recruiting our players.

And I mean, Billy Donovan was a grad assistant at Kentucky for Rick Pitino. I worked Pitino’s camp cause he recruited one of my players when he was just at Kentucky and, and Billy sent me a player development videotape of them, him and Herb Sendek and Tubby Smith doing player development stuff with guys like John Pelphrey and Derek Feldhouse and Sean Woods, the guys that played in that famous Duke game I had, I don’t know where it is.

I’m very upset. I’m sure it’s in my office somewhere. I shouldn’t be sure. I think it’s likely here somewhere. And so I definitely copied a lot of what they were doing. As I said, I worked I was working, I was one of the only men in America that worked both the BC camp, which is  Bill Cronaur.

Right. And Five-star the same summer rivals because, because BC camp was bill Cronaur of the the C part of BC was from where I lived. I, in fact, I drove him one year to camp in Georgia. So he let me do it and I get it a lot. And then I how Garfinkel invited me to do the Five-star camp.

Then I did a lot of those. In fact, later on, I ended up managing a lot of their overseas stuff. I was brought in as a partner to, to expand their camps, to I went to Turkey with them in Mexico. And so along the way, you meet with a million coaches, but because my players was so good, I developed, I pretty much quit drinking alcohol for about 20 years, mostly because in the off season, I would just want to pick coach’s brains.

And when I be at a place like BC and a lot of the coaches would enjoy drinking at night and used to get away from the kids all day, which is understandable. I just found a college coach and who was there recruiting players. And we exit owed one of my biggest mentors actually, who I still just adore is a guy named Gordon Gibbons who was a great division two coach, where I lived just retired recently from division two, but he could have been a D one coach.

He chose to go the D two route and had a great career at Florida Southern. And then he went to Clayton State and coach Gibbons guy spent hundreds of hours talking basketball and exit. Oh. And he recruited all players pretty hard. And for a while he was the assistant coach. So a guy named George Schultz, who at Florida Southern ankle becoming an NBA assistant coach with the Magic.

And I spent a lot of time with him. Lon Kruger was a huge mentor. Lon Kruger and a guy named Ron Stewart, who was an assistant to Lon at Florida. And Ron is now like director of G League scouting for the Bucks in Milwaukee. They were probably my two biggest mentors. In fact, a couple of weeks ago my father passed away at almost 82.

And one of the first texts I got, I don’t know how we found out about it, but a coach Kruger had sent me a text. So we’ve stayed in touch over the years. And they influenced my coaching enormously.

[00:13:30] Mike Klinzing: Those kinds of relationships that you build obviously are really what the game ultimately is all about, it’s such a small world when you think about the basketball space.

And when you go back to that time as a high school coach, and you start thinking about how you’re developing, and you mentioned that when you first started out, you didn’t have a strong philosophy of, Hey, this is the way we’re going to do things you learn as you go along, obviously. So when you think back to that time, and you talked about how important it was to build relationships with your kids, what did that look like for you as a young high school coach, building those relationships with your players in those early years as a high school coach?

[00:14:04] David Thorpe: Yeah, this is everything. For me, most of our players were from two different projects in St. Pete. And this was at a pretty rough time in, in St. Pete’s history. In the eighties, we had race riots prior to me getting there. And there, I had a player who lives in a dirt floor home. He’s actually a great high school coach.

Now. He was a great player for me and Larry Murphy, but he. As far as you can get, I had another player named James Reddish who didn’t have a phone or a car. And so if you had to change practice times, I had, I had to call when his teammates who had to run to James’s house and tell him, James ended up being one of the top NFL prospects in the country, out of university of Houston, and then was in a car accident.

He was in the backseat and broke his back and that ended his career, but he still got his degree and it was a trucking company is doing really well. I’m so I’m still in touch with all these guys. And so w what I did is I invested time I was dating this beautiful blonde I told you about, and then we married in 1990, and I started having players come over to do study hall, especially for exams at my house.

The players that didn’t have any place in their home to study because they had no furniture, or it was just too, just too messy, too many people. We would have them come over and study. I took a lot of pride in our kids doing well in school. Almost got fired, actually. Teachers said I was racist because I was yelling at my black players for making C’s and D’s, and F’s on an English test.

And I went to the principal, brought me in and told me that he heard, I was screaming at my players against the wall. And I said, I think it’s racist not to yell at them because it’s the only language they know this is, they speak English. They have to be able to get through. These are all ninth graders.

They have to get through ninth grade English. And I just don’t know any other way to do it. And I’m very happy to say that all these kids were dying to do better in school and they just needed someone to challenge them. And so I got an email maybe 10 years ago from one of my players, wives, and he’s still right now, he’s probably 47.

But so at this point he was probably in his mid thirties named Timmy. Timmy’s wife. Charlene emailed me. I never met her before on father’s day. And she said that my husband never knew his dad. He’s the, he’s my husband and father of our three children. And he has mentioned you so many times over the years as being his dad.

And I just wanted to thank you because he’s a great husband and father. And of course I bawled my eyes out and that’s what I was supposed to do to me. This is what we’re supposed to do as coaches. And by all means I was not perfect. I started coaching Timmy when I was 23, my year before that was 24. I was 22 when I first started coaching.

And so, I mean, I had philosophies, but they weren’t well thought out they weren’t nuanced, they weren’t complex. And so I got better with all of that, but I know this, I was committed to them as individuals on day one. And it probably helped me that I was raised in part by a black woman named Diane Stotts.

She was a camera kind of our family housekeeper, but she was mostly our second mom and lived with us. If my parents ever went into town once or twice a year, she moved to. I probably went to her church more than I went to my temple growing up because I was raised Jewish. Diane and her family was our family.

And at, I always tell people the story at our family bar and bat mitzvah is, were four of us. Diane and her family sat on our family table. They didn’t sit at another table. They sat on our table because they were our family. I never even thought of it any other way. And so she, she lived where a lot of my players were from I learned and it just, wasn’t hard for me to connect with them as human beings.

And I’m so fortunate because boy, these players, they will, players will do anything. If you can help them play better, but it certainly helps if you also see them as people and, and try to inspire them to do better and to want more, to be ambitious about life, not just basketball. And so I think that helped them connect with me.

I would argue that it was the most important thing. It wasn’t a coaching I was doing. It was the man I was, that helped us kind of connect

[00:18:12] Mike Klinzing: to wife, know what she was getting into before you guys got married, that she was going to have players at your house and all the things that went into it, how aware of what life she was getting to marry a coach was she?

[00:18:25] David Thorpe: Yeah, no, not at all. She was a sophomore in college. When we first started dating, she married me. She wasn’t even 22 yet. I was, I just turned 25. And at that point she knew, I say goodbye to where every summer for pretty much 10 weeks. My goal was to coach. I heard, I heard Ryan Pannone on your show. I know you probably know that he assisted me for my son.

I speak to Ryan probably more than any human on the planet. That isn’t my business partners or my family. Ryan what he said is we try to coach, I told him this, I try to coach a hundred games a year. So after 10 years out of coast, a thousand games. So that meant all summer, I was doing whatever camps I could work, fall league, spring leagues.

I did everything. And I met, I say, goodbye to earth. This, I regret this now, to be honest with you, I’ve said this and I have a 20 year old son and daughter, my kids are twins that I really should have done more for her. I’m just very lucky. She had the grace and patience to wait me out, but I should have been taking her to the beach and I used to joke that I used to see my friends naked a lot more than I saw my wife naked back then my girlfriend in the summer. Cause we would do we live in dorms and this is the life I led. And luckily she was very involved in, first of all, she was graduating from college. And she was a very committed employee after that.

And then she was willing to move with me. I was offered a job in Turkey. I remember calling her from, I think it was in Istanbul when I got offered a job and she was ready to move. And then I was offered some college jobs while I was a young basketball coach in the early nineties and she was ready to go and I didn’t think it was the smartest move for us.

And I don’t regret it. I don’t know if we would have made it if she had lived year round that way. Because as a high school coach, yes, I was scouting all the time. I mean, I was scouting games. I was developing my players. I gave up playing myself on weekends, so I could just do more player development for my players, but I still saw her plenty. And had I been coaching in college? I’m not sure I would have, and I don’t know if our marriage would have made it, it’s impossible to guess, but she loved me and she supported me and that’s kind of always been what’s mattered most is she was behind me and respected that I wasn’t going to take her for granted.

And I still, hopefully don’t ever do that. Yeah. That balance is a huge,

[00:20:49] Mike Klinzing: It’s a huge thing. And it’s something that I think so many coaches you see struggle with. And I know I have a lot of friends in the coaching profession that their marriages didn’t survive because they were, they were married to the game and it’s really easy.

It’s really easy to do. It’s really easy to caught up in your season and caught up in this. And I just gotta do one more thing. And especially today you think about David, just how different in terms of the time demands, like what, like what you were doing back in the time when you did it made you I’m sure.

Very, very unusual. In today’s game. I think the baseline of the amount of time you got to put in whether it’s as a high school coach or a college coach or pro coach, whatever level, I think it’s even higher than it’s ever been. And there’s a lot of coaches that struggle with that family and work balance and trying to figure out how can I, how can I do a service to both of them and not make sure I’m not neglecting one for the other?

And it’s a, it’s a difficult line to walk without question. Yeah. I agree. How, when you think back to those times in the summertime, when you’re cruising around the country doing camps, what’s your favorite camp that you’ve ever worked? Is there one that stands out to you that you’re like, every time I went here, I just, there was great people there, or the coaches that were part of the staff took you kind of under their wing and brought you behind closed doors.

Was there one that stood out for you?

[00:22:03] David Thorpe: There’s a few. So I worked Florida camp with against my first ever. I was able to coach a varsity, not our varsity. Another coach asked me amazingly enough at Pinellas park high school, his head coach, John Keller asked me to take his team to Florida Gator team camp to teach that man to man.

Cause he had a bunch of young, talented athletes and didn’t know anything but zone. And he called my boss and said, do you mind if I borrow coach door and let him take my team? So I’m 23 years old, I’m coaching, varsity basketball alone. I had been coaching artsy metal spring and we went undefeated in spring league.

In fact, I wrote about my book. It was like my first time coaching varsity. And we ended up going undefeated in an incredibly talented conference. Again, this was just for the spring league, not regular season. And so now I’m coaching a team camp. And my very first game was against Miami. Senior high was Shaky Rodriguez, but shaky, shaky.

Isn’t so famous outside Florida. Other, we did become a head coach at FIU and division one college for awhile. His two assistants were Anthony Grant and Frank Martin. So I got really close with, I know Anthony, while I got really close with Frank, we’re still buddies and. Working those Gator camps over the years.

Cause I had gone to school there. My brother was in med school for a while when I was working those camps, my closest friend in the world is probably Randall Leaf, who was a player at Florida, became a great, great high school coach in Florida. And I was coaching up in Pennsylvania. We got to be super close and he and his wife were godparents to my twins.

And so that never happens if I’m a, if I’m at work in those camps, I’d met him before, but it was the camps that really cemented our friendship. But the BC camps were great because it was so much talent. Kentucky’s camp was fantastic. I drove my player there and a buddy of mine in his good, his best choir.

And but Five-star was incredible as a life-changer because I, I mean, I had Vince Carter, Steph Marbury, Tim Thomas Jerry Stackhouse. I had so many great players in stations. And then I started coaching at the first. It was the middle it’s called the NCAA. I won my first NCAA champion. Which was great.

And then and then I started coaching the NBA players with tons of talent NBA players were, that was their best seniors back then. And you know, your coach back, I initially I was coaching my first, my first year I coached against Bob McKillop, who ended up coaching staff at Davidson. I coached against Pete Strickland was a great coach in college.

And I think he’s doing some high school again now with DeMatha. So that was fun and meeting all the college coaches that would come in and recruit. And I listened to Mike an hour long speech called the eight ways to defend the pick and roll. I spent an afternoon talking to Bobby Hurley right after he trained with the dream team in 92 that summer I picked them up from the airport and we took them to lunch before he spoke to our camp.

Bobby Hurley, Jr. Yeah, I just you just exposed to some great minds and that’s where I really learned that I could coach because at Five-star you got, if you worked the better camps, they had a referee school going on at the same time, which meant you didn’t have to record. And because they wanted to be able to teach the referee stuff.

We got three timeouts, non QM per half. And so there was no way we were using all three timeouts, each half to run something. And I learned Kevin Sutton. I became really close friends. He’s a big time. He’s a college coach. Now he’s down here at Florida Gulf coast. He’s been everywhere and he coached a million great players, NBA players.

I cut my teeth coaching as those guys. And so I learned, I developed a lot of my philosophies because of five star. You only got 30 minutes to practice one time. And so I was able to kind of over the years, edit our playbook so that in 30 minutes I could maybe get 10, 11, 12 plays in V inbounds, plays, sideline and bounds to a dead half-court attacks.

And I still I still did that. years later, I developed even more off of those initial 30 minute practices and that really definitely made me a much better coach.

[00:25:55] Mike Klinzing: What do you think the game has both lost and gained in the way that the high school basketball summer scene has shifted from, okay, you’re at Five-Star or you’re at Robert Morris.

You’re outside on the converted tennis courts and you got all the best players in the country coming and they’re playing on asphalt. And again, kids in that time, that’s kind of the era I grew up in. I graduated from high school in 88, graduated college in 92. So I grew up in that outdoor basketball era going and playing at five star and all those things.

And it’s amazing to think that the best high school players in the country, if you were to tell them today that, Hey, there used to be a time where. Everybody converged on these converted tennis courts and played outside in the hot sun for eight hours on cement. And they’d look at you like you were crazy.

And yet there’s a lot of positives to that system, and there’s a lot of positives to the system that we have today. So when your mind just maybe compare and contrast the way basketball used to be with the way it is now, give us some positives and negatives of each system.

[00:26:56] David Thorpe: Yeah, I won’t, I won’t just limit it to five star either.

That was the only outdoor camp. I’m really friendly with Lee Klein, who is the son of, one of the founders Will Klein. Five-star had a lot of real positives for me. I think, I think we did almost everything wrong back then. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’re doing much more right now. I think their heart was in the right place back then and it was their business.

I don’t know that we have that the heart like Lee Klein lives the game and is all about the players. For sure. I don’t know that I found many AAU people that are. And I’m sure there are some, the guy that coached my son at which I hand kind of handpicked them. They were great guys. And, and that’s why our program was so great.

But I didn’t find most of our opponents to be cut at the same cloth. So I’ll go into a couple of things. So first of all, when players are young and this goes to not just summer camp, but the whole general sport itself, our only job as coaches slash parents should be to help our players fall in love with the game, because the game is so hard.

I coach NBA players. Now I break down film on a daily basis by seven o’clock in the morning, I’m already into synergy sports, breaking stuff down this morning. I was breaking down Wizards versus Nets from last night, which I actually watched the game live as well. It’s a fricking hard game. And so if you don’t love this.

Unbelievably gifted, like Lamar Odom may not have loved the game. I’m not sure, but he’s so he was such a gifted player. Tim Thomas was such a gifted player. He didn’t really have to love it, but those guys are such rare examples of what human beings can look like. 6’9” super coordinated. They love the game enough to develop great skill.

I don’t know if they continue to love it as pros. That’s a different question, but we got to get our guys to love it. And I don’t know that we’re, I don’t think just playing games is enough and I don’t think just skill training is enough. And I don’t know that you would call me the godfather of planted Velma, but people say that all the time, because I was the first one, pretty much in America doing Clare development as a business, everyone was doing it for their player.

I didn’t invent that, but the business of it was something that people think that I was the first one to do. And I’m unhappy to tell you that I think everyone’s doing it wrong, and that is they’re focused so much on the skill development and not the game development. And so my curriculum, for example, is based on game development of which skill development is a part of it.

And if I could wave a magic wand and go back and do it again, I would have raised money and I built a business on game development. I never would have called it skill development because the idea is to help them advance their game, not their skill alone. And so we have a lot of players. One example would be and we’ll talk about the NBA I know later, but going into this draft last summer, I rated Evan Mobley the number one prospect in the draft. I had Scotty Barnes, barely behind him. Coin flip at number two and Cade Cunningham number three, and really did like Jalen Green very much. Because those other guys really understood how to play at a very young age and needed develop their skills. Whereas Green had great skill and athleticism and had no clue how to play.

And I just think it’s harder to teach someone how to play once you get to that level than it is to teach someone who knows how to play more skills. And this is where I visited a failure of our institutions globally. And I’m somebody who’s coached 87 or 88 NBA players. I probably have 150 guys that have played high levels of Europe.

So it’s the problem over there to the problem over there is we tend to over there, they tend to be turned more into schematic robots. I think Spain did that with Ricky Rubio, a little too much. He got so caught up in being a game manager, lead guard that he forgot to just go play and get buckets and score.

And it prevented him from ever being an all-star unfortunately. Whereas in America, we’re so caught up in the ISO game, skill game show, what you can do as a dribbler shooter that we don’t teach them how to play the game, which is jazz. My book is called basketball is jazz for a reason Scotty and Evan Mobley into a lesser extent, but still it’s there and Cade Cunningham.

They understand that the jazz aspect of the game. And so I think that we’ve done a poor job of, of teaching that, and that is sapped some of the joy because I can tell you firsthand, my son who plays college basketball, he was raised by me. So you’re damn right he appreciates the jazz part.

He understands the we part of this game, not the me part. And it takes great joy in that And because of that, it’s a richer experience for him. The players who find joy mostly from the me aspect of it are being robbed of the chance to love the we aspect of this. And it’s not easy to get them to appreciate it later in life.

So if I could wave that magic wand, it would be to really change and transform how we go about teaching the game and developing skill within game development, as opposed to developing skill for just skill at all.

[00:32:25] Mike Klinzing: So there’s a ton of stuff in there. I want to ask you about first, let’s go back to the love of the game.

Cause I think that is a hundred percent correct. I have conversations with parents all the time that want to talk to me or ask me questions about worrying about what’s going to happen next. You know, I have a, I have a fifth grader, how are they going to make it to the middle school team? And it is, and you know, I got a middle school player.

How are they going to be a high school player? I got a high school player. How are they going to college? And ultimately one of the things that I was trying to tell them is, look, it’s not really up to you. Like it’s really up to your kid. If your kid doesn’t love it, they’re never going to work hard enough at the game to be good enough to do the things that you think they should be doing.

It’s ultimately up to them. And I think you’ve learned that I’m not sure I would have had that same philosophy before I had my own kids. And once you have your own kids, you kind of realize that like you can put things in front of them. I can put basketball in front of them every day, but ultimately it doesn’t matter unless they’re going to pick up that ball and go and work at it.

And it means something to them. They’re just never going to develop that love. So I think that’s a great, great point and philosophy that you bring to the table where you say, Hey, you just, you got to love. We got to develop love for the game, especially at those lower levels. Cause we don’t always do a good job of that.

I think youth sports in my mind, I think one of the problems is, is that we’ve developed it where. It’s almost become work. You know, you’ve got the eight year old kid who goes to travel basketball practice two or three times a week, and then they’re with their speed strength, agility person two or three times a week.

And then they got their basketball trainer. And look, I know a lot of seven, eight year olds, and I don’t know that many that want to play basketball seven days a week for two or three hours a night. I just don’t. I just don’t think those kids, there are some, but there aren’t that many. And I think when we do that, we robbed those kids of that ability to develop the love for the game.

And I think the other thing that I started thinking about as you were talking is you go back to the era where you were. I grew up and we had an opportunity to go out and just play basketball without mom, dad, coach, referee fans, and just kind of experiment and play and try stuff and do different things.

And if I wanted to play a pick-up game against some players, that weren’t as good as me. Use my left hand, or I could decide, Hey, this game, I’m just going to try to pass and make my teammates better or whatever. And kids today don’t get that opportunity. I think those are two things that free play piece of it, I think is a huge part of it.

And then I think just turning youth sports into work is a challenge as we look forward. And I think as you said, we have a lot of people out there that I think are well-intentioned, but we just, I think there’s a way we can do it better and do it differently where it’s going to be good for the players, but it’s also ultimately going to be good for our game.

[00:35:06] David Thorpe: Oh yeah. Mike, how old are your kids?

[00:35:11] Mike Klinzing: So I have a senior, who’s my daughter’s a senior. She stopped playing after her freshman year because she was a very average player. I mean she just didn’t the players that were on her team, the relationship piece of it wasn’t there for her. And so she didn’t love basketball enough to kind of fight through the fact that she didn’t have great friends on the team.

And so when she walked away, she said, dad, I’m not having any fun. And so she hung it up and walked away and we were we were happy and everything was good. And my son is a high school sophomore, and he was a kid who has always played basketball, but he didn’t find that love until probably about a year and a half ago.

And suddenly that light bulb came on for him, which was a good day for me and a good day for him. But it was hard. As a kid who wanted more and more and more basketball, you couldn’t have given me enough when I was a kid. And so to have a kid who wasn’t wired like that, initially I was it was tough and you have to, you have to really watch yourself and what you do.

And then I have a sixth grade daughter who plays a bunch of sports.

[00:36:10] David Thorpe: Well, I like that. I didn’t let my son, my son played baseball when he was five with his twin sister, she stopped playing pretty quickly. He played, he was actually a much better baseball in part because you don’t have to be so tall.

And he played till 13, 14, and that’s when he decided to go full-time basketball, but I didn’t let him play basketball. He was 10. And because I wanted him to, I knew it it’d be in his life at some point and he didn’t really seem to care. And then once he played, so he played rec ball and was okay. I coached it and the team was good.

So it was a fun experience. Once he played AAU and I let him play you starting in sixth grade. Okay. Really? You would play a couple of tournaments and got destroyed this week and see what AAU was all about. And, but he wanted to do it in sixth grade. So we kinda joined an existing team and I got real involved.

I brought some coaches in and one player besides my son and, and it was amazing and that, and it ended his baseball career in a year and a half. Unfortunately, cause Mike, my son told me the other day, he thought he could have played professional baseball at least AAA level because guys that he played with that was better than he was better than them, even though he was much smaller, our high level division, one players.

And my son was just a better prospect at that age. And I don’t think he regrets it because he’s in love with basketball. And so he has no regret. He just wonders, which is okay. We all one sure. But I’ll tell you this on this subject, it’s the single best story I listen. I could bore you with a thousand mistakes that I made in my career.

I wrote about some of them in my book. And if I do another book, which I probably will, I’ll write about more mistakes than I made, but this is a dad now we do the best we can and we try to learn all the time, but we’re never really sure. Just like, as a coach, I’m never really sure when I, when I speak to a guy that I been talking to in 15 years, why coach, when he was 15, what did he think of me?

You don’t really know. It’s, you’re, I’m always a little nervous that maybe I wasn’t jerk to that guy. I don’t know. So my wife was talking to my son, our son the other day. And again, he’s playing for one of the best programs in the country at Florida State. They’re struggling right now because they lost three starters to injury.

And it’s a tough league when you lose three starters and plus some other injuries. But they had been leading the ACC at that point. So we had the biggest high was beating Duke at Florida. He texted me at 2:30 in the morning and thanked me for everything I’ve done in that point, I decided just had the best night of my life.

So that was pretty great. He spoke to my wife recently on the phone and they were just talking about really tough coaches and, and the sport of basketball. You know, my son has teammates that play all over America from AEU and, and his post-grad high school team. He didn’t go to post-grad, but his senior year, he actually played with a post-grad team just to get better experience.

And so he’s got a couple of those guys ended up three of those guys playing college basketball too. And they were talking about how tough some coaches are. And my wife said, who knows, know me pretty pretty long time. And she said, when you say your dad was tough, like he, he was, I thought he was really tough.

And Max said, no, he’s like Dad built relationships. So when he was tough, he did it from a point where everyone understood what he was saying, and everyone loved him for it. And I could cry right now, knowing I didn’t hear this conversation, but the fact that my son got. Told me that I actually did it.

Right. I tried, I I’ve told him so many times over the years and right when my dad died I left both of my kids messages on WhatsApp, voice messages, and just saying like, help me be a better dad by just telling me what I’m screwing up. Like, I don’t want to, you’re 20 now you’re allowed to live your own life.

And over the years, and I said this to each of them, I’ve worked at pulling myself away more and more because you just like you know, I can’t fix all your mistakes and I don’t need to, I was telling my daughter, you can tell me anything, but you don’t have to tell me. It’s on you, but there’s nothing that you don’t have that you feel like you can’t approach your subject.

I said, I was there. The millisecond, you came out of your mom. I was holding her left ankle. Like I could hear all of it, but you don’t have to tell me any of it. It’s your choice. But I am not going to intrude. I have to give you space. And I intentionally missed some of my son’s AAU practices and games.

Some of his high school practices and games, many of them actually, I stopped going to practices last couple of years to give him that space. Hoping that one day he would come back to me and we’d be best friends for life. And and now of course not miss a second, although we he’s not playing right now because Florida State’s has got more, more good players than they have playing time available for him.

He’s super focused on getting better and he wants to implant time next year and I’ll do everything I can to help him. But I don’t miss a single thing. And if he was playing, I don’t know if I’d go to every game or not. I probably can. Because this is it. Once he’s done. If he wants to play professionally for a couple of years, that’d be great, but I will not be traveling overseas a lot to lots of flights.

It’s his own life. But I think we did it right. He basketball can really help us teach young people on more important life lessons. And we use sports as a tool for that. I’ve always used sports as a tool for that. It all comes down to one fundamental fact, seven days a week, seven days a week at 6:00 AM almost exclusively for five or six years.

My son was out working on his ball-handling in our driveway. I didn’t do it. I actually felt great relief when he went away and I could be in my office and, and I could never hear any balls bouncing at our front driveway because every time I did, which was every single day for six straight years, I had asked myself, do I go out there?

Do I wait to ask me to go out there? How long do I stay out there? I have to earn a living, but I want to help him. And I’m a good coach. And it was a balancing act that was so stressful for me and so relieved. I don’t have to do that anymore. I’ve handed them off to an amazing coaching staff in college, and I don’t even ask them anything, they coach them the way they want to coach him.

He asked me the other day, I saw him play in person. He asked me what I thought of his shot. And I said, it doesn’t matter. I’m not coaching you anymore. When you get home this summer, if you want to, if you want me to tweak your shot, we can talk about it, but they’re your coaches now. I’m not. But it all comes from that love of wanting to compete and wanting to get better.

And the other part too, is that we part, I told you, he really gets it. He told me once that these players, aren’t just his brothers, he’s their brother. This is at Florida State, but it was that way in high school too. They were in fact, the other day, he sent me a picture of three of his JV teammates who went, went to hang out with him one weekend, just last week.

They wouldn’t hang out with them and go to the game and everything. That’s what sports can do. And we used it the right way and for him and my daughter was a dancer. And I can tell you the same things about that and dance and her best friends are dancers that she met when she was in fifth grade or sixth grade.

That’s how we use sports the best way, I think.

[00:42:55] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. You make just your story rings so true to life to me, because I think the two things that I took from that are one is that as a parent and as a coach, you don’t ever know if you’re doing it right, because you can’t go back and replay it the opposite way.

So just like you could, I have, from the time my kids were five years old, could I have dragged them to every single basketball event, skill clinic, whatever games could I have dragged them to every single thing that I went to or wanted to go to. Sure. I could have. But I didn’t. And not that, that was always easy because as a competitive person, as a person who loved the game of basketball and as a person who had such great experiences with it, and as you said, learn so much about the person who I am was shaped by the game of basketball.

There’s no way around that. And so you kind of want to have your kids have a similar experience because of how good the game has been to me. So it was an internal debate, just like you you’re sitting there. You’re going, should I shouldn’t I should. I shouldn’t. I, and eventually you just have to make a decision of what, what direction you think is right.

And then the other thing that struck a chord with me is that I think when I looked at why I made the decision that I did, and again, I you can say, do you think it worked out well or it didn’t work out well, whatever. I think to this point, it’s worked out pretty well, but I think ultimately what’s most important is, is not what kind of basketball player they are, but what kind of human being they are and that when they’re 25, that you have the kind of relationship.

You’re going to have with your son and your daughter, where they’re going to call you up and they’re going to be a friend and it’s going to be a different kind of relationship. And it’s not going to be something where, and dad was such a jerk that he dragged me and all this stuff. And by the time I was 12, I hated basketball, but I just kept going because I didn’t.

And then that relationship has soured. And so I think it’s, there’s no perfect answer. And there’s probably different answers that are right for different people and different families and different kids. But as you said, you’re kind of, we’re all flying by the seat of our pants as a parent, for sure. You just, here’s throwing things up against the wall to see what you can figure out what’s going on.

So I could completely relate to your story and it’s like, Anybody who has a kid, who’s an athlete in any sport or you’re a musician or whatever it might be. I just think you have to, you have to try to find where’s that where’s that line where you can’t just let them sit on the couch and eat chips all day.

But at the same time, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t drag them to everything, right? I mean, you can’t, you can’t force them. Cause I think ultimately if they don’t love dance or they don’t love the violin or they don’t love basketball, like we talked about earlier, they’re just not gonna, it’s never gonna, it’s never going to pan out for them because if you don’t love it, you just not gonna spend the time.

[00:45:36] David Thorpe: I mean, when the pandemic first hit, my son and daughter were seniors in high school and my daughter had just quit dance because of an eye injury. And my son was getting ready to at that point we had visited Florida state. He had made his decision, I’m going there and playing on the team. And but we were in a lockdown.

The gym was open, whatever. So he went to his cousin’s house religiously and lifted weights in his cousin’s garage who lived a couple blocks away. And he got really strong because that’s what college athletes do in a pandemic is they don’t stop. Right. They work their ass off. We got running miles and run sprints, and this is just doing jump rope.

And it’s just all I remember hearing when he was old enough to drive, he would back our cars out of the driveway when it’s pouring rain, I’m sorry, out of the garage. So we could do his ball handling in the garage. Like this is there’s no, excuse this summer I was talking to him and he was a little tired.

I said, why are you so tired? You guys want me to starting your training yet? He said, well, he mentioned a couple of teammate’s names. He’s like we’ve been doing some 5:30 AM, sandpit workouts in preparation for our sandpit program in the fall. I’m like training islike five weeks away. What are you doing?

He’s like, well, we just want to get a head start. Like this is what college athletes do. And the average person doesn’t understand the level of commitment to the game on all aspects of the game to include learning how to be a better team. Learning how to cheer better, which is something that is something my son didn’t have a lot of practice in, but none of that happens without really being in love with it.

And we can’t make our kids love anything. I always laugh when I hear people say, well, he’s just like his parents and that’s not, I, me, not my son, just kids in general kids. Don’t I mean, 50 50 at best, whether it’d be like their parents, they don’t learn just because a parent does something doesn’t mean they’ll do it too.

In fact, they often do the opposite so we can model the best behavior we can, but they gotta make choices. And, and we try to talk them through it. But I know this for my son, it was our love language. And if anytime you want to get to know a young boy, a teenage boy, that’s your son or nephew.

Just get them to get something to eat. And they’ll always talk if you feed them.

[00:47:45] Mike Klinzing: That is true. That is a hundred percent

[00:47:46] David Thorpe: So when I wasn’t feeding them, how I got my son to talk was I’d say, Hey do you see the Clippers just picked up? Did you watch the Warriors the other day? Boom, that was it.

Like he and I, and my daughter, when I had a very different conversation that she could care less. We had Marvel movies, my son and I, and we had a wish I’m so thankful for. And we had basketball and he wants to make a living at it. He wants to, at this point, he still thinks he wants to be a team executive.

And so now we’re having conversations about trade deadlines and salary cap and finance. And these are, these are new things that he’s gonna have to learn, but he’s watching, we never watched college basketball. I watched NBA basketball. And so did he, and now if I say, what are you doing tonight? He’ll say, well, there’s this game on this game on all college.

Cause these are potential competitors in the NCAA tournament, years in the year, past and or in the ACC, like he’s so in love with that, that new thing now. And I am just a listener and he’ll tell me what, like he was telling me about the kid. Trey Murphy, the Virginia player at New Orleans Max played against Virginia.

He knew all about this. And so it’s great. I’m getting fatty reports from him. Now. I might say what’s the key to attacking te Syracuse zone. And my son has a really, really good answer. Really good answer because he is living this stuff. So that’s great. I could this is, I could nerd out on that stuff all day.

Obviously I’m a coach.

[00:49:08] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. It’s funny that you say that. So my son has never been a kid really that has watched a game, but now that he’s gotten into high school basketball, He’ll watch, he’ll watch high school games. So he’ll watch teams that he’s playing against or teams that are coming up on the schedule, or he’ll watch two teams that his team’s already played against.

So that’s interesting to have those conversations. And then my daughter who doesn’t play basketball anymore, she’s my NBA person. So her, and I’ll sit down and yesterday trade deadline, we’re talking things and just she’s a huge Cavs fan. So we’ll sit down and watch a Cavs game together, and we’re not watching it on the same level as a coach.

And she’s not obviously a player, but it’s just fun to have somebody in the house who wants to talk MBA, which I have never had up until four or five, six years ago when the Cavs made it all the way to you know, the championship and with LeBron and my daughter at that time was what she was 11.

So we had a whole corner of the house that was set up with all this calf stuff. And it was just it was a blast and those are the things that, as a parent, you just can’t. I mean, you just can’t compare to those that it goes without saying, all right. I want to go back in time to how you made the transition from high school coaching to.

Being a player development coach, and then obviously being much more than that to the guys that you work with in the league. How do you go from I’m a high school coach, and obviously you had a lot of connections through going to camp and work in and that kind of thing. So just how does that transition happen?

[00:50:28] David Thorpe: I made a decision that I wasn’t going to stay as a high school coach. There wasn’t enough income for what I was hoping to accomplish in my career in my life. And I didn’t love the profession for different reasons that I won’t get into now. And I was worried that my marriage, which was, I thought very strong, wouldn’t be able to last in college as a college coach, because I had friends who were already kind of losing their marriages.

And it just so happened that I was working some games as an announcer locally here. And we took it. Our area in Clearwater had like state-of-the-art equipment for games. We were winning cable ACE awards back in the I wasn’t, but there were technical crews waiting in the early nineties. They took it very seriously expensive equipment.

So I was doing games of the week, every Friday. At which I thought some of those videos is really funny. And parents will come up to me and they knew me because I’d worked camps all summer. And I knew their kids, even though they played at rival schools of mine, I would coach their kids and their sons at camp.

And so they, it just one player in Collin McCoy at $25 an hour asked me if I would work with him on his game. And it grew to a business where I had 75 players coming every week, more or less from around the west coast of Florida. And that’s how the basketball academy grew. And then I was still doing some other things in business, managing sporting events.

And a guy that I met at Five-Star wasn’t became an agent and they were his company represented Tim Duncan, Grant hill, Tracy McGrady. And they were, they were trying to represent Trajan Langdon, the great player from Duke. Who’s now the GM of the Pelicans and Trajan, didn’t take them. And they S they, the, the, the head agent Lon Babby.

Yeah. If you don’t mind me asking, what was it that we didn’t offer that your agent that you chose did? He said, well, you have no one to do draft prep for me. And, and that back then, NBA draft prep was very in its infancy. So he, this agent Lon Babby ended up going, who eventually became the president of Phoenix suns.

But back then he was using agent and an attorney for a very powerful offer named Williams and Connolly in DC. He went to one of his young underlying, you know law lawyers for the company who was helping him and said, we need someone to do draft prep. And that person, his name is Jason called me, said, do you still train?

And players? I said, not so much anymore. He said, well, I think we can get you some pretty good players. So the very first draft I did, I had Chris Carawell, from Duke, we talked, I had McDonald’s and college All-American that duke his senior year. And Bootsie Thorton from St. John’s and a guy named Illumina Oryadasia was drafted by the Sonics.

Carawell was drafted and is an assistant with coach K now has been for 20 years. He ended up being drafted by the Spurs. So during that time, and then I started helping a player named Udonis Haslam who had just played a year in France after being on drafted out of Florida. And he came to train with me to get ready for summer league for both the Heat and the Spurs in summer league.

And he made the Heat. He ended up getting offered a very short guaranteed deal low money short on money. I mean and I learned very quickly that I can like, he needs more help than just getting ready for summer league or the drafts. I can make this a business. And so starting with your daughters, I realized I can start helping players at the highest level, get ready for whatever summer programs are in the draft summer league.

And then during the season, and I started, I kind of built a year round business for that. And I’ve been doing that other than my writing at ESPN. And now I write I’m a partne at true hoop. I’ve been doing this since 1999, basically.

[00:54:07] Mike Klinzing: Too bad Udonis didn’t have a long career that you kind of played off.


[00:54:10] David Thorpe: I remember I wrote this in my book. We were, we were sitting at a Greek Place. That’s still open right now in Northwood Plaza and in countryside area of Clearwater. And we had four or five players in town, but he and I was sitting at the same table was sitting outdoors. Cause we had just worked down and all the guys was sweaty.

We were having lunch and he looked at me, he was 22 years old and he said, Coach Thorpe, do you really think I have a chance to make it in the league? Like he, he really didn’t know 20 years later he’s still playing. It’s amazing. Amazing. Yeah. I love, I love Udonis. As he was very influential for me, taught me a lot, very brilliant players.

And but yeah, that’s how it started.

[00:54:48] Mike Klinzing: That’s incredible. All right. I want to ask you just a general player development question based off of what you said a little bit earlier, when you talked a little bit about the difference between developing skills in isolation versus developing skills that can actually be applied in the game.

And I think one of the things, when I look at basketball today, I see players at the high school level that if you compare them to players, 20 or 30 years ago, the players at the end of the bench are way, way, way more skilled things they can do with the ball shooting wise than players 20 or 30 years ago.

But I’m not certain that those players IQ are close to the players. Played in the past. And so how do you go about what are some things, if you were to have a conversation with somebody who wanted to start a training business, or somebody who was already training players, and you said here’s a way to do it better.

What are a couple of things that you would tell them that they should think about or that they should look at in terms of improving the way they work with players, to make sure that the skills they’re teaching are translatable to games. Okay.

[00:55:53] David Thorpe: So first of all, let me address what you said. Unequivocally, the players today are every bit as good as they were back then, if not in many cases, way better, that being said, I understand your point.

I don’t think they have a better feel. So if you take your best players from your high school teams, I have videotape of my teams in the eighties. I watched the tape the other day from a very, very good team I had in 1991-92 season. And the team we played ended up losing the state championship game and we are the only team to beat them until they lost in that.

And those players are every bit as good. Those top 10 as what we see now on most teams for high school, obviously the ones that went to college, for sure. All right. So, so you’re not wrong that those players then for, in terms of feel what we have that too here, we have plenty of guys with amazing feel.

Now we have way the problem is Mike. We have way more skilled players now, which is dangerous if they don’t know how to play Jalen Green. Yeah. Jalen green this year at one point for the rockets was I think he was one in 18 and then two and 24 in games. He appeared in. Meanwhile, the team had won, not a ton, but a lot more games than that.

He had no idea how to play basketball, but because he’s got all this skill and athletic athleticism, you kind of get caught up in that. And you forget that it’s about winning games. To get to answer your great question. I think he, I think players need to play a lot more and they need to play a lot more without mom and dad or coach watching.

They’ve got to just play. The challenge is we need to ask them to try to remember some reference points where to just, I have a chapter of my book called embrace the suckiness. I think Pannone may have mentioned that Ryan, I talked about that. Yeah, that, that came from me talking to my son about he couldn’t get hit in baseball.

And he finally came up to me. He was nine years old and they had moved him up to playing with 11 and 13 year olds. But because of his fielding and pitching, not because of his hitting against guys, that in some cases were shaving, my son was nine. And he said that I just want to get a hit. And he was crying.

And I said, well, we first have to imitate. You really suck at hitting. And I don’t know why I did it. I’m not a sadistic person. And he’s like, yeah, I suck at hitting. I said, okay. I said, this is the point. What does it matter if you suck, you’re nine years old? Why do you care? Let’s just get. Don’t attach emotion to the suck part.

Let’s just get better. So that’s where this all came from. So that’s what playing does. If you’re playing a lot of one-on-one 2, 1, 2, 3, and three, four, and four or five and five or 21 or whatever game you want. And you suck at it, keep track of what you’re bad at and let’s, and then that’s our, that’s how we inform the curriculum for our practices.

That’s the uniform, the curriculum for your own workouts. What are you doing on your own? This is where I think we have failed so dramatically is that’s one, one area is I don’t think our guys play enough games. That don’t matter. The problem is an AAU. Every game seems to matter. That’s bad. As an example, I’ll give you, I started coaching JV also as well.

I coached my fraternity when I was a sophomore in college, but my first. My first job as a, as a, as an adult after college was coaching JV and assisting varsity. And if you try to make a left-hand layup on the left side and missed, we gave you a standing ovation. We get in games, forget practices. I didn’t care if you missed it in a game.

The process was what mattered. And if you, in most cases in AAU losing matters, there’s a consequence to it that the coach values too much and the player consequently values too much. And so they stick with what they can do and they don’t develop what they can’t do. Does that make sense?

[00:59:37] Mike Klinzing: I think that goes back to that free play point that I was making, where when you’re always in a gym where people are watching and there’s a scoreboard, you’re a lot less likely to get creative and try things.

Maybe you are a little bit beyond what you’re capable of doing in the moment. Whereas when I was nine years old and on my driveway and plan one-on-one to a hundred with one of my buddies, I mean, I could try whatever and I could shoot a 30 footer. I could shoot the reverse layup. I could use whichever hand I could.

I could do anything because there was nobody standing on the sideline, a keeping score or B telling me what I was doing right or wrong. And I think that it’s a challenge for coaches to be able to, I think, build that, build some of that free play into it. I think you make a great point about left-handed lamps.

I did that with my son’s team, my daughter’s team all the time, same thing with the left-handed layup. It’s just come on. If you want him to shoot a left-handed layup and then it’s an a game and they should have left-handed layup, they miss. And then you yell at them, which we’ve all seen. Right? I mean, you’ve seen it and I’m sure as your kids are growing up and you just look at, you, look at coaches and you’re like, man, if you just, if you just would not worry so much.

Winning that third grade basketball game, you could give your kids such a better experience and they could, they could become better basketball players in the game would be more fun and w we’d all be better off.

[01:00:55] David Thorpe: I think it will, Mike, would you say that most people listen to his podcasts are actually coaches?

[01:01:02] Mike Klinzing: I would say mostly we have coaches.

[01:01:03] David Thorpe: Okay. So let me, let me tell him a story because this goes to what, what you’re describing right now about where, where our values have to be. So imagine having coached scores of NBA players like I have, and being an NBA analyst at ESPN for decade, which I had done and writing a book called basketball is jazz and having success at high school level and all of that, which I’ve done.

So imagine you’re coaching AAU or in the case, I’m gonna tell you right now you know, high school varsity summer basketball. What if like for these other guys, when they coach against me, to be coached to open the games, a big deal. Oh yeah. And one thing I love to say is that I have a lot of confidence of what I do, but I have no pride.

I believe pride is a big problem. I’ll if I want to win a game and I come up with a strategy, man, I’ll get another strategy. So fast. If I realized I was wrong, like I just have no pride, I’ll change up until I Ty Lue is that way for the Clippers, he he’s played more lineups than anyone last year of the post season.

And they ended up beating the Jazz. I don’t have any pride when it comes to stuff like that, nor do I think that if I lose there’s some, a better coach than me that I just see a bigger purpose. I’m also almost 57 next week, next Wednesday. I’m 57. So I’ve been around a little bit. So one time I’m coaching.

My son’s kind of like a, I guess you call them ninth grade JV, but we had, we took a couple of players from all the team, not very good players because it was, it was more of an AAU event. And these were young men that I knew and were planning against a high school varsity coach that I knew when.

And he brought him, we were ninth graders seat. We were playing up against 10th graders. He had his 10th grade team and we were beating them. We played really well. We were beating them and he was coaching. Like it was the end of the world and only his best six or seven were playing. Cause he wanted to beat me.

And I knew that and I’m friendly with the guy. He was fine. I mean, what was playing everyone? Because it was an AAU game in may. Like who does it? What does it matter if you win? It was a nighttime game and, and I late in the game, they were making a nice little comeback. And he called a timeout. I think we’re up to three with maybe a minute to go.

He called time out frantically after they made a basket and he was out of timeouts. And meanwhile, he did not know he was out of timeouts because you know, they say your tournament’s the young girl some teenage girl at this, at the scores table, who knows if he really was out of timeouts, she claimed she had told him, but I didn’t know.

So I said the referee, so of course the detective. I said to the referee can we just ignore the tech and play? I said these, these kids, you all paying 10 bucks a game. They’re not really paying attention. I don’t, I’d never hear her say that they’re out of timeouts. The referee. He’s like, no, I told him, I said, listen, can you just cancel the tech when he said, no, I said, well, I’m telling you, I’m going to tell my player to shoot two air balls.

So it’s horrible. Anyway. Cause they had just scored. Can we just have the ball out of bounds and save the trouble with me having someone to, to our balls. And, and the referee was pretty shocked and we ended up, I’m almost positive won the game. Cause I think I wrote about it on Facebook and saw that memory like five years ago, this was 6, 7, 8 years ago.

And I got a lot of comments after the game from the parents, from the opponent. Their head coach never said a word to me, which kind of know I thought he should have, but right. The parents saw when I did and they knew who I was. And my point is, none of you out there.

Well, almost none of you anyway are going to be at the level I’ve been at. I’m lucky as hell for sure. But if I could swallow my pride and put my reputation at risk to lose a stupid as ninth grade AAU game. So can you, because when I was trying to get done with those players had nothing to do with whether or not we won that game and it certainly had nothing to do with my ability as a coach.

I wanted these guys to fight their rear ends off against an older team. That was their own high school team. We had players from a couple of different teams and from two different schools, could water and countryside high school that were just all friends. And we just wanted to compete our butts off and play the right way.

We just have to stop with those egos in the pride and see the big picture. And it, isn’t hard to see as adults it’s just hard to do. If you’re caught up in your own ego, we need to get past that.

[01:05:20] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. And I think what I’ve found is that. If you’ve had some success yourself in the game, I find it.

At least for me, I find it to be much easier to, to step back from an ego standpoint, because I did things like my time. I don’t want to say my time has passed, but my time has passed. You know, am I my days of being worried about, am I going to be in the newspaper or is somebody gonna come up and pat me on the back after I win a sixth grade travel basketball game, I’m not really that worried about that stuff anymore.

And so it really has to be more about the kids and developing them and making them better and all those kinds of things. All right. I know that. Well, I want to talk some, some topical NBA stuff, we have about five or six minutes left.

[01:06:03] David Thorpe: So let’s, let’s go. I can go a little long over the time, whatever you want to cover.

[01:06:07] Mike Klinzing: All right, let’s do that. So let’s start, let’s start with obviously the biggest topic. And then I want to talk a little calves too, since I’m here in Cleveland. Sure. Let’s start with the, let’s start with the Harden Simmons trade. I just, I’m going to throw two things at you and I’m going to be sort of, I’m going to play devil’s advocate and then I’ll let either let you agree.

Disagree with me. Tell me where the nuances are with what I’m about to say. So Philly gets hardened and now he’s basically tanked his way out of two straight teams. So you bring him in, how happy is he going to be? How well does he fit with Embiid? And then you take into account. When the biggest moments in the playoffs, you can make a pretty good argument that he hasn’t been at his best, in the biggest moments when his team has needed him.

So that’s my devil’s advocate. Okay. Hard and going to Philly and then on the Simmons side of it. And I’m curious to hear from you on this one, who is Simmons the last time we saw them, he’s shooting 32% from the line in the playoffs, which is clearly a case of not necessarily his fundamental skill, but that’s something going on mentally, like a golfer that has the IEPs.

And I think that’s very difficult. I went through something like that in college with free throw shooting, and it took me a little bit of time to get over it. I was shooting like 90% as a sophomore and I went one for my last 10 as a sophomore. And then I eventually got it up as a junior. I shot 76%.

And then as a senior, I shot 82, but I was a better free throw shooter in high school before that happened to me. But I, but I overcome it. I overcame it, but I wonder everybody’s kind of penciling Simmons in as he’s just gonna come on in and be once he gets back in shape that he’s going to be the Ben Simmons when he was at his best.

And I wonder if you know the mental side of it and not the mental health side of it, but just the being able to get up to the free-throw line and look, he doesn’t have to shoot. 90%, but he’s gotta be able to make 65, 70% or else teams are just going to start hammering ’em. So just curious what your take is on those two things and then kind of how you feel like it’s going to play out.

[01:08:08] David Thorpe: So I published a big article about this yesterday, right after it. I actually have two different pieces of this week at TrueHoop.com. I got it right in front. I got it right in front of me. I read them both. Oh, great. So I’m the one on and beaten Simmons and Simmons and hardened. So in the case of Philadelphia, I mean, James harden at any point is better than no Benson is right here so we can argue, I argued back in the fall.

They should go after Derrick white and Jontay Murray from this first, I feel very good right now that had they done that they’d be better off in the next five years and having James harden right now, John Jonathan Murray is an all-star and he’s 25. Derek white gets swiped to Boston. Both are, both are close to being elite level players, Derrick White’s top 5% of league.

Did John say Murray suddenly has become top 10% on offense after having been top 10% of defense in the past, and again, just 25 years old. So I think Darryl should have done that. And, but hardens better than nothing. I, I think hard nose Zack. Well, my buddy, who does his own pot, obviously it is PN. He talked about this morning that he’s, Harden’s on alert now.

Like you, you can’t do this anymore. And, and that matters like James knows he can’t solve a complaint about Joel and bead. No, one’s gonna listen to the boy cried Wolf will be done. So he’s going to have to play I think it’ll fit and just sign with dwell and beat the world’s best players always find a way to fit in it.

I gave this example that did you have to Henry Abbott my partner troop yet? Did you happen to watch Mike the Beatles documentary? Get back.

[01:09:46] Mike Klinzing: I heard the Simmons podcast, but I have not watched it yet.

[01:09:49] David Thorpe: So in the second one there’s a famous jazz keyboard player. That’s often called the fifth beetle and he’s called that because initially he came to London, they had been playing in Hamburg, Germany when they were young, they were young band and he had been playing for a different band in ombre, Germany in the, in the early sixties.

And they knew him. And so he came by and they just said, Hey, do you mind sitting in on some, some of these things that we did well, meanwhile, it’s on camera. We, we watched it and we listened to it and they were incredible. You would thought he’d been with the Beatles for years. And my point is at the highest level, these brilliant basketball players are just like these brilliant musicians.

It just the blink of an eye on. So we don’t have any concerns about how Joel Embiid and James harden can figure it out. It’s like getting two mathematicians in a room to solve an equation. I promise you they will solve it. Okay. That will be the issue. The issue is James arden. As we age as players, we, we can’t do the same thing nearly as frequently as we once could.

So Kobe Bryant had whatever 60, I watched his last game, but he wasn’t doing that every game. He’s not, it’s not possible. As you get older, you, you have moments. It’s no different than aging as a human being. There are times my dad, while he was dying in his last year, there were days where he actually felt pretty good, but when he was 50, he had most days where you’re feeling pretty good when he was 30 everyday felt pretty good.

It’s a safety professional athletes at the highest level. So we’re going to see Harden be amazing less than we use. Might it be enough to win a championship shore? Joella beat is one of the two best players in the world. And one of the three best Giannis and Jokic, which might be better. It’s splitting hairs, they’re all the same.

They’re all beyond. Great. So, and LeBron’s still pretty damn good. So I think that there’ll be very good. I have them third or fourth best in the league by seasons. And as they kinda work in things defensively out, which is where I think there’ll be more challenged. The Ben Simmons thing. I think you make a great point.

Just because he’s out of Philly, doesn’t mean he’ll make free throws. Now he’s shot better from the line than he did in the post season. But I think you’re right. I think that there’s real concerns there. The, I heard someone say today that he wouldn’t even come back and until Durant’s back. Cause he wants that cover.

He does want to come in. I mean, if they, if they come back to a home game, there’ll be no Durant and no Irving until, until after the all star break. And that might be something he can’t handle. We don’t know. We don’t know if this all. To get out of Philly. We he clearly has some mental issues.

There’s no doubt of that, but we don’t know how, how severe they were, we’re going to find out. And so, no, I think that long-term Brooklyn won this trade short-term Philly won it, and that could work to each advantage over time. It’s possible that both are true. One team is better in the short term, once you get better in the long-term.

[01:12:39] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. The best version of Simmons clearly fits really well with Durant, with Kyrie. And I think with the rent, I mean, it’s just you look at what he can bring, what he can bring to the floor defensively. And again, just as a distributor and Kyrie and Duran, obviously the, the shooting that the two of those guys bring is just you know, is incredible.

All right. Talk, talk some calves with me. Sure. So clearly nobody really saw this coming, at least in terms of the success that they’ve had wins and losses wise. I think there were a lot of people that obviously like Devon. People thought that Garland was going to be able to take a leap and that he was going to continue to improve.

And then Jared Allen, you get him as a throw in from the last heart and trade and hard, hard to believe that Houston didn’t want this guy. And they’ve just, all those guys have developed at a much faster pace than clearly anybody thought. And so now you have this team that sit in a game and a half out in the Eastern conference and they go.

Caris Levert. So what’s your thoughts on how Levert fits? I know that I think you like that particular fit for the calves and you certainly bring something that they didn’t have his ability to put the ball on the floor and create offense where previously they only had basically Garland is the only guy who’s got any kind of creativity, especially in the half court, but just defensively.

This team is so good. So how does, how do you see Levert fitting in and what do you think the what’s the ceiling for the Cavs? If things go perfectly for them, what’s their ceiling?

[01:14:00] David Thorpe: I just was reading a study by this recently. We know the placebo effect is a real thing and there’s, there’s so much evidence of it in, in the medical profession.

There, if you believe something, you can make it be the case, whether it should be or not. And I think Cavilers players believed Caris LeVert is going to be a big key for them going forward. What he does offensively his ability to generate points on his own as a Playmaker, not just a score he should be able to there’s such an elite defensive team, the best defensive team in the league right now, mobile is a big part of that.

So is Jarett Allen. And Levert definitely is not a defender, but can be when you’re playing for, in their minds in a number one seed. So he’ll compete is bought off and he doesn’t have to carry a load offensively. They got Darious and and the system itself for that. And they got Kevin Love off the bench, helping, and, and he’s an incredible player in his own.

Right. And has been for a long time. So I think they believe, and that’s big. You gotta believe now belief only gets you so far when you run into another team that believes too, and they’re better. And so what my fear is that they’re going to be a three seed and they’re going to have to play the Raptor is at a six seed.

And I think Toronto is going to beat them. If that’s the case, now we’re a long way to go from there. Okay. Toronto could go higher than that. They’re on an eight game win streak and they’re playing great. And Pascal Siakam is playing called. He deserves it all. NBA. It’s a joke that he’s not an all-star joke or that lamella, program’s been

[01:15:27] Mike Klinzing: incredible since he came back.

I mean, he’s been, he’s been unbelievable.

[01:15:30] David Thorpe: Oh my God. So I think when you ask me about ceiling, I think their ceiling this year is to win a series and that’s no knock on them that the east is just loaded, loaded. When you think about Brooklyn might be the eighth seed, they might be the eighth seed. So how about that?

Cleveland clinches, the first seat. And then they got to play that team with Ben Simmons and Kyrie, and the first two games kind of replays it’s. So I think a series is, is I just am a big believer that you gotta have pain before you, you went a lot. I think you have to go through a lot of frustration and pain and Cleveland as a city has done that as a franchise done that, but not in the postseason with these guys.

So I think that if they can, if they can win a series, incredible, if they could finish top four in the east. Incredible. And then I wrote an article about them last month, called hello, Cleveland from the old it was that movie, the funny movie about the the band that the fake rock and roll band, the mockumentary,

[01:16:28] Mike Klinzing: gosh, the spinal tap.

[01:16:30] David Thorpe: This is spinal tap. Hello Cleveland. So I named it that oh, they’re going to be contending for championships for a while there. I just love mobily so much. I love Jared out. I love Derrius Carlin. I think Isaac, a coral can be a workable glue guy for them. If he’ll buy into that, I think count Sexton. And we did our show today.

Our podcast called brain. I’ll show today. We talk about, I think Sexton’s should agree to be a six man for them. And I think that’d be a dynamic play for him and for them, otherwise they have to solve that problem. How do we generate big time scoring on our bench unit? Not easy to do Lou Williams, Jamal Crawford, kind of guy, poppy Jackson from back in the day with him.

I’d love. I’d love them to do that. I don’t know if he’s willing to duties and all young player, and he may feel like he should be the DEROS calling for some other team. I don’t agree with them. I think you should be a six man for that team, but no matter what, they have a core in place that, that he, you guys should be very excited.

You should be great for yourself.

[01:17:26] Mike Klinzing:What’s Mobley’s ceiling. How good can he be? Could be a top five player in the league. I mean, obviously what he’s doing defensively this year is unprecedented for a guy who’s a rookie big man

[01:17:34] David Thorpe: He’s Tim Duncan 2.0. He, I thought Jared Jackson Jr. Was the best prospect in that same draft with Luca.

And I thought he could be Tim duck in two point, oh, I’m not wrong. He’s coming around now. He’s starting to show it and look how good Memphis is. But Eddie mobiley is teamed up in 2.0, he’s not the, he’s not really the shooter from three that that needs to be, to be the 2.0 version. You got to play on the permanent more defensively, which we do now more in the league and you gotta be able to make outside shots.

Mobile-y is better on the first. And you know, you’re not yet a shooter, but I think he’s going to be, so I think he’s going to be a Tim Duncan, like player. He’s going to be up for all the all defensive player of the year, all NBA. And he’s going to be a first ballot hall of Famer. That’s what I think.

[01:18:17] Mike Klinzing: I’ve never seen a guy get to spots on the floor.

On both ends, who appears to be moving in. I don’t want to say slow motion, but he just, all of a sudden he’s there and it never looks like he’s sprinting. It never looks like he’s moving fast, but it’s just all of a sudden he is there and he just swallows guys up at the rim. It’s

[01:18:39] David Thorpe: yeah. Just so just for all the coaches out there, I was working with an NBA starter earlier this winter a center, big, a big athletic, very talented center.

And it’s really quick and fast and jumpy. And I spent an hour showing them yolk H tape, and I showed him and I, he was laughing his ass off that kitsch and he he’d be, he’d run a pick and roll at the top of the key, which a mom or someone. And then I would do, like, I need to do, to do, to do. Cause he was kind of stroll to the rim and the ball would come right into his hands.

I’ll bet off a rebound or off a pass. And he would lay it up or docket, whatever. And everything was just like you to do. And he was always raised, posted. And my point I was making to them is you don’t always have to rush that’s the field, that’s the art. And you’re exactly right. Mobley and Scotty Barnes have that gift of just the game has a feel that there are some players who don’t have a great field, but can be great players.

Their, their craft is great through athletics. Isn’t the great there. Their discipline is great. They don’t get themselves in trouble, all that, but the guys where the game just makes sense. They have to work on their game. Just like a musician may have a talent, an ear for music, but they still got to work on their craft, or they just will have a talent that isn’t developed.

So Mobley has that feel like Jokic, where he just, the game makes sense to him. And it’s, it’s like I said, he has got the bars I could watch all day because they just, the game just is in their bones, you know?

[01:20:10] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. It’s interesting. Just talking about. Being able to play with pace and understanding that you don’t have to be going a million miles an hour and you watch again, I’ve been watching a lot of high school basketball with my son playing and the number you see the CC, the good players.

And obviously this intuitively as a player, as a coach, but the best players are the ones that can change speeds and play at different tempos. And then the players who aren’t as experienced are just going a million miles an hour. All the time and they just don’t understand and have that feel for the game.

Look, we’ve been talking about all throughout this, Dave. I mean, I can’t thank you enough, David tonight for taking an hour and a half out of your time to, to jump out with me and spend a lot of fun, learning more about just your background and where you came from. And I’ve been listening to you on Zach’s podcast every year with the playoff preview.

So it’s, it was fun to get out and have a chat, have an opportunity to talk to you. And not only just talk about your background, but then talk a little current MBA as well. So again, thank you very much. Give people, let people know how they can follow you. Just share again, social media and tell them where they can get your book and where they can subscribe.

It’s your true hoop and just give me the sales pitch and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

[01:21:20] David Thorpe: So, on Twitter, I’m at @coachthorpe one word, And I mostly just tweet NBA stuff. I don’t tweet a lot of it, but I’ll get more involved in the post season. I actually, I do Facebook, which is like a love letter to my children when I’m long dead, they can always check back and see what their dad was doing and thinking their life.

David Thorpe on Facebook and Instagram is @coachDavidThorpe. I wouldn’t recommend doing that. It’s I don’t use it for anything of purpose but truehoop.com is where they can subscribe. We are a deeply analytical NBA site. I do all the on-court stuff. My partner right now, he’s mostly focused on the billionaires who run our league and some of the dangerous things that we’re involved in because we were trying to protect our league.

But I do try to provide really good analysis and then we do two podcasts a week called bring it in. And but I it’s all goes through my Twitter account, so they’ve subscribed, but if they follow me a true. Coach to our upon sweater, then they’ll, they’ll kind of see where I’m at everywhere.

[01:22:19] Mike Klinzing: Perfect And once again, David cannot thank you enough for jumping on with us and to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.