They were the Jailblazers before he got there, it’s only fair people remember that. For as much as he did in Portland during his seven years as the Head Coach of the Trailblazers though, Nate McMillan was still fired last week anyways. He spoke to the media on Tuesday for the first time, and despite the unceremonious way he was discharged, we wasn’t throwing anybody under the bus on his way out the door. Quite the opposite actually.
To the organization who drafted Greg Oden over Kevin Durant, and saw a franchise, League MVP caliber, player in Brandon Roy forced to retire much before his prime, McMillan told The Oregonian simply that he understood the decision, and would miss being their Coach.
The ship ran aground and he was the captain. As a result, he will take the blame.
“I mean, we were playing some bad basketball. Something was going to happen, you just knew it,” McMillan said Tuesday in his first interview since his firing. “To sit here and think that I wasn’t going to be looked at … I wasn’t sitting here thinking I was untouchable. They made a tough decision, but they made it, and I respect that.” […]
McMillan was already coming into the season with heightened anxiety. Entering his seventh season in Portland, and coming off three consecutive one-and-done playoff appearances, he said he felt he needed to get out of the first round to keep his job.
“If there was a year I needed the preseason, it was this year,” McMillan said. “But I get it. Regardless of what you have done in the past, in pro sports you’ve got to win.” […]
“There’s a lot of mixed emotions,” McMillan said. “It’s been hard. I don’t want to look at the games, but I have. I found myself yelling at the TV the other night. But to look at the team, I feel like we are on the battlefield and I was removed, but my team is still in that battle, still at war. That’s hard. Because I know they are going through some tough times.”
The Portland Trailblazers story really is an epically woeful tale these days in a number of respects. What if Oden never gets hurt. What if Brandon Roy is still healthy. What if whatever caused them to fall from 7-2 to where they are now could’ve gotten fixed at 7-7. I suppose we’ll never know, but one thing does appear certain, however: Portland is better served for the time that Nate McMillan spent as their basketball team’s Head Coach. He’ll be back on the sidelines again somewhere too, whenever he wants to be.