While I (and most everyone else) have thought this many times over the past few months, this is specifically in regards to his article yesterday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "As a black man, Cheeks watches his step." Let's take a look. (Smith's quotes in blockquote)
Maurice Cheeks is a black man.
Thanks Stephen A. I had no idea.
Under normal circumstances, this would mean absolutely nothing. But if you are a head coach in the National Basketball Association, and you are perceived as the warden of an asylum run by the players, this is something you can ill afford.
Especially as a black coach in the NBA.
Well, if you didn't know Cheeks was a head coach in the NBA, Smith told you twice. So that's helpful.
Smith apparently also subscribes to the Scoop Jackson School of Broadcasting, which calls for as much vague and cryptic writing as possible.
Here's the dirty little secret talked about amongst African Americans in the sports world: While the numbers are proliferating, methodically erasing the need to make an issue out of the paucity of black coaches in the game, it hasn't changed the unwritten standard attached to their job description.
Most coaches are hired to win basketball games. Black coaches are hired to do so while keeping players under control.
If this were not true, you still wouldn't see many black coaches in this game.
Let's ask Jim O'Brien about this. He coached for one year in Philly, led them back to the playoffs, and was fired for the effort. I didn't hear Smith complaining about that one though.
Cheeks was brought here to be something Jim O'Brien wasn't: a winner with a personality.
The onus placed on Cheeks was not just to win basketball games and ingratiate himself with the Philadelphia community. It was, and still is, to keep the players happy, so we wouldn't hearing about how Billy King is entertaining the idea of accepting expiring contracts just to start anew.
So let me get this straight, Smith complains that Cheeks was brought in to win and have personality, with his main complaint seeming to be that for Cheeks, winning alone is not enough. But he makes no mention of the fact that these were the exact same conditions for O'Brien, who won and was fired after one season.
Also, I think the reason King is entertaining the idea of accepting expiring contracts is because Philly has won exactly one playoff series since 2001, and their core is starting to get old. It has nothing to do with the coach.
But that's only as long as there's a vision for a future. A plan in motion that includes the right coach, capable of manning the ship. Translation: Keeping the players in check.
Is Cheeks the right guy? This question has been asked, albeit not by me.
That, in itself, is a problem he needs to fix. Now!
First of all, let me say I haven't heard of too many thoughts about the Sixers firing Cheeks, although since Smith writes for a Philadelphia paper, I guess I can give him the benefit of the doubt. However, (winning) coaches around the league are in jeopardy of losing their jobs. This is probably Rick Adelman's last year in Sacramento, and all he has done is lead the Kings to the playoffs the last 7 years. Jeff Van Gundy has been catching heat in Houston, and he's led Houston to the playoffs the last 2 years. Both of those coaches are white, by the way.
As a Philly fan, I like Cheeks. I don't want him fired, and I don't think he'll be fired. But what's Smith trying to prove here? That he can make racial claims? Too bad that a so-called "national reporter" has to resort to sensationalism in his writing.
I'll definitely watch my step the next time I think about reading a Smith article.