Plenty of folks try to use LeBron James to diminish Tyronn Lue's coaching ability.
They'll tell you there are a lot of coaches who could pile up wins while leading a team that features the King.
Instead of using James as a reason to be skeptical about Lue's coaching prowess, one could easily use LeBron to build the opposite argument. If you're coaching James, you better be on your game every day. Every practice plan better be well-conceived. Same goes for every game plan and every play drawn up in a huddle.
James thinks the game at an extraordinarily high level. How much tolerance do you suppose he has for a coach who doesn't do the same?
I have absolutely no doubt the 41-year-old Lue, who starred as a cat-quick guard at Nebraska from 1995-98, coaches the game at a high level. My heavens, he has an NBA championship ring to prove it. He took over as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the middle of the 2015-16 season and led their drive to the title. They rallied from a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors to pull off one of the greatest team achievements in NBA history.
Yeah, the guy's a big-time coach.
But for those hoping Lue will fill Nebraska's current head coaching vacancy, the chances appear to be very slim, as multiple sources say Husker athletic director Bill Moos has targeted Fred Hoiberg for the position. Meanwhile, multiple sources told the Journal Star that Lue has expressed interest in the job.
Moos said Tuesday his search for Tim Miles' replacement "probably will take seven to 14 days" to complete. I know from previous conversations with Moos that he is aware of Lue's prowess both as a player at Nebraska and as an NBA coach. But if you listened closely to Moos discuss what he seeks in the Huskers' next head coach, his comments seem to work against Lue being even among the primary candidates.
"Whoever gets this job is going to be a known, successful recruiter," Moos said. "And that's extremely important in all of our sports."
Moos expressed confidence that Nebraska's athletic department possesses the qualities that can help the men's basketball program "attract a coach that has experience, hopefully at our level."
Lue never has coached in college. He began his coaching career in 2011 as an assistant with the Boston Celtics and also coached in that capacity with the Los Angeles Clippers and Cavaliers before spending 2½ seasons as the Cavs' head coach.
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I'm betting he hasn't closed the door on coaching in the NBA again. In fact, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that Lue is the name "most frequently cited in league coaching circles" as the man for the Los Angeles Lakers job if Luke Walton is fired. Even so, it doesn't surprise me that Lue has expressed genuine interest in coaching at his alma mater.
Plenty of people would like to see it. Lue's an intriguing possibility in part because he would become Nebraska's first African-American head coach in any sport. Moos twice hired Ernie Kent, an African-American basketball head coach -- at Oregon and again at Washington State.
“I’ve hired the first African-American coaches at a couple of places, not so much because of that but because they were talented and were good recruiters," Moos said. "Is that a major factor? No. I want to get the best coach who I feel comfortable with and who can represent the university well and care about these young people and do the things I talked about.”
Moos said he wants a coach who adheres to NCAA rules. I'm confident Lue would do that. Moos wants a coach who fits well in the community (Lue also checks that box) and the university in general (ditto).
As for style of play, Moos indicated he's leaning toward coaches who can light up the scoreboard. By the end of Lue's tenure in Cleveland, he was showing creativity on offense that turned heads in the league.
Those close to Lue feel his NBA pedigree (he played in the league for a dozen seasons), connections and personal brand would open doors to five-star college prospects, a realm Nebraska rarely has reached in its lackluster history. Lue retains a strong relationship with James. People know that and respect that.
Then again, Hoiberg played and coached in the NBA. He also worked in the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office. So, he has that NBA cred, too, and coaches an NBA brand of ball.
But the key in this discussion obviously is Hoiberg's experience as Iowa State's head coach. He was 115–56 (.673) from 2010-15. Yes, a proven recruiter.
So, go back to one of the key traits Moos seeks: a known, successful recruiter. It's extremely important, he said.
Lue is unproven in that regard -- perhaps a deal-breaker when it comes to the Nebraska job.