Amid the speculation about who will get the full-time head coaching gig with the Milwaukee Bucks after this season, the former Bucks and Lakers star says he'd take the job if asked.
While interim head coach Jim Boylan has done a respectable job keeping the Bucks in position to make the playoffs, there's still plenty of room to speculate on who might hold his title to begin the next. Beyond the usual names of retired of fired coaches, Dave Begel of OnMilwaukee.com Sports thought of one candidate he felt was being overlooked: NBA Hall-of-Famer and former #1 overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Begel wondered why Abdul-Jabbar's name hadn't been discussed more, and when he asked the former star if he'd be willing to coach the Bucks if asked, the response was an emphatic "of course." Making a case for himself, Kareem said:
I know how to prepare for a season as an individual and I know what that means in terms of team commitment. I can get all the right people together that have some chemistry and care about each other and they love the game. That's where teams are made or not made successful.
As Begel noted, Kareem has not outright sought the top coaching job with Milwaukee, but his continued connection to the game (contentious as it has been at times) suggests he'd like to try his hand at the role with any organization. Abdul-Jabbar served as a special assistant with he Los Angeles Lakers from 2005-2009, working specifically with Andrew Bynum. He also worked with Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah this summer, helping Noah put together the finest season of his career.
The obvious benefit, then, would be pairing a head coach like Kareem with Larry Sanders, the Bucks' rising talent at center. But head coaching is about much more than player development, and it's fair to question whether Abdul-Jabbar's knowledge of the game could be easily translated to coaching expertise. After all, plenty of other former stars have tried their hands at coaching and failed miserably.
There's no doubt Abdul-Jabbar deserves at least a look, but John Hammond would need to give a lot of thought to the idea before pulling the trigger. Can the Bucks, who are so deathly allergic to taking even small steps back, afford to take a risk on a relatively unknown quantity at head coach? The answer will likely depend on how they choose to "build" on this season's likely playoff berth. Abdul-Jabbar would make a major splash in a city that all too often borders on disinterest in its basketball team. Would that be enough to sell him over a more experienced and presumably more qualified alternative? That's something the Bucks would have to consider.