Avery Johnson Coaching Middle Schoolers

NBA coaches do not have a lot to do right now. Barred from contacting their players, drawing up plays, giving puzzled looks at referees or worrying about appeasing their superstar players or managing egos, coaches are kind of doing office jobs. Sure, there might be some general game planning for the season and planning for what the team needs to do once the lockout ends. But there is only so much you can do without being able to put anything into practice.

The worst part is there is not much coaching they can do even if they wanted to. College players are off limits — they have their own coaches and the NCAA sort of stands in the way — and so are high school players since they are all technically NBA prospects.

What is a locked out NBA coach to do?

Avery Johnson has been holding clinics and coaching middle school basketball. It is a similar experience that many coaches may be having throughout the league as they try to kill time during the lockout. That and a lot of charity work.

Johnson tells Colin Stephenson of The Newark Star-Ledger what his locked-out life is like after he ran practice at Ronald Edmonds Learning Center, M.S. 113, in Brooklyn:

“My life, right now, is doing the stuff that we did today, getting involved in other ways in the community; attending my son’s games — but not trying to crowd him too much. That’s where we are right now.

But we miss this part — just teaching, seeing kids improve, like even we did today. In a matter of 60 minutes, we saw some kids improve, and that’s what my staff and I love to do.”

Lucky kids to get some NBA instruction. Hopefully they could stand Johnson’s reputedly grating style and attention to detail on defense — I know when I was in sixth grade, you could hardly get me to say defense without shuddering.

This is about all NBA coaches can do. NBA coaches are allowed to observe college practices, but cannot provide actual coaching or much else. I am not sure they are even allowed to talk if they attend those practices.

So it is good to see that the league’s coaches are trying to get out in the community and put their trade to work on the grassroots level of the game. It certainly seems like they have a lot more patience with the middle schoolers than they do with the league’s best.

The lack of stress must be killing them.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily