Frank Vogel and staff to coach 2014 Eastern Conference All-Stars
Just three minutes after the Pacers disposed of the Sacramento Kings, 116-92, at home Tuesday evening, a news release arrived from the NBA officially announcing that Pacers coach Frank Vogel as the head coach of the Eastern Conference team at this year’s All-Star game.
A win, their 30th of the season, clinched it. Since coaching staffs aren’t allowed to be the coach in back-to-back years, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra is ineligible for the honor.
“Well, first I’m excited for our organization,” said Vogel of the honor. “My name is going to be on the release and I’ll be the one in the forefront coaching the tea and whatnot but this is a recognition of our team’s success. From the job Larry Bird and Kevin Pritchard have done putting together this team, to my coaching staff, to the trainers and the work that they do, and obviously the players in the locker room committing every single night playing as hard as they do, it’s a team honor. I’m really excited about it.”
Paul George, the second-leading vote getter in the East, is a lock to be a starter. He had 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in his All-Star debut last season. The fourth-year guard said it’s very meaningful that Vogel will be there with him in New Orleans.
“He’s the one guy I came in here with,” George said of Vogel. “It seems like we’ve grown together. I’m happy for him. It’s going to be a fun trip. I’m looking forward to being down there with him. He’s the one dude I respect most on this team. He’s really coached me through a lot of things and made me better as a player.”
In addition to George, Roy Hibbert is expected to make the team. He’s received the fourth-most votes amongst frontcourt players in the East. Lance Stephenson and David West have a shot as well, but it would likely have to come from the coaches who decide on the bench players.
Stephenson launched a campaign on Wednesday requesting votes. (You have to watched this video he made.) Voting ends Jan. 20.
West, on the other hand, made it known last year that he preferred to have a week off and rather not be selected. The 33-year-old already took part in two of them (2008-09). He hasn’t changed his tune and responded with a drawn out, “nah” on whether he’d liked to participate this year.
“I just don’t set personal goals,” he said. “I just don’t know if there’s space for personal goals inside a team sport. I just don’t do it. I’m more concerned with this group and I’m proud of what the group has been able to do up to this point in the season.
“It’s a great honor for our staff to represent the team. Obviously, we’ll have a few guys on the All-Star team. It’s a great honor. The group has done this. We’ve gotten out to a good start. I guess it’s a reward for getting out to a good start and winning games early.”
Vogel, 40, has earned everything in his coaching career. In the NBA, he went from being a video coordinator, to an assistant, to a scout, back to being an assistant, then to an interim coach before being named the Pacers’ 12th head coach in NBA franchise history on July 6, 2011.
“His knowledge of the game is just as good as someone who’s been through an NBA career,” George added. “He’ a video guy, and video guys know the game. That’s what they do, study film and learn guys’ tendencies. He’s a player’s coach. He understands a guy’s positives and how to utilize those positives on the court. That’s where it started. And then his positiveness and his togetherness, he really changed the whole culture of this locker room.”
Including Vogel, four of the team’s last five coaches have headed up an All-Star team. He joins Larry Bird (1998), Isiah Thomas (2003) and Rick Carlisle (2004). Longtime assistant Dan Burke, who’s wife will join him and his two daughters are already pleading to tag along, was on every one of those staffs.
“The biggest thing is it’s great for those players and it’s great for the franchise that the coaching staff can do it,” Burke said.
“It’s a good time to watch the (stars) all interact and I know Roy [Hibbert] previously talked with some of the guys, like [Chris] Bosh. I think they do compare notes and it’s good to see each other in a different light. The respect comes a little higher the next time you see him and the competitive juices flow even harder.”