If you’ve watched the Warriors’ first three summer league games, you may have noticed Pete Myers bouncing on the sidelines. Like Wednesday, when he ran out near half court to pat rookie Harrison Barnes on the backside for a good defensive play.
Myers is really into his role as head coach of Golden State’s summer league squad.
“I was one of these guys. I played nine years in the league, eight of them I was on a non-guaranteed contract. I know what these guys are going through firsthand. I’ve been there.”
Warriors coach Mark Jackson had very specific reasons for making Myers the head coach. He wanted someone who could drive home the grind mentality Jackson wants to play with this season. He wanted someone with the kind of basketball pedigree the players could feast on. He wanted someone the players could relate to, connect with.
Myers fits all of the above.
“I knew they would be in good hands and it would be a great platform for people to appreciate what he does in a daily basis,” Jackson said. “You won’t find one guy that does not like Pete Myers. They appreciate his honesty. They appreciate how he understands where they are. Whether you play 40 minutes or four, he’s got something for you that’s going to help you.”
It seems Myers is loving his time with the Warriors youngsters. You can hear the excitement when he talks about his team. He all but foams at the mouth when he talks about the passion and energy their playing with in Las Vegas.
The primary goal is to incorporate some of the Warriors defensive concepts into the young guys. Excluding guard Klay Thompson, who returned home to Southern California after playing the first two games, Golden State’s summer league squad has at least five players who figure to be on the 15-man roster. Point guard Charles Jenkins, forwards Jeremy Tyler, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, and center Festus Ezili will all be fighting for minutes in the Warriors’ rotation.
The hope is they come to training camp prepared. To that end, Myers is giving them healthy portions of real talk, motivation and basketball wisdom.
“I definitely have a lot of respect for coach Pete,” Jenkins said. “The best thing about Pete is the way he critiques you. He’s tough, no question about it. But how he critiques you is always for the better. You can tell his basketball IQ is very high. He has more of the approach like a high school coach: he really cares about his players, he stresses winning and stresses doing it the right way.”
Jackson’s top assistant, Michael Malone, has interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs this offseason, including Orlando and Charlotte. Jackson said he doesn’t understand why Myers isn’t also drawing interest as a head coach. Jackson said Myers has the qualifications to have his name tossed in the ring with the league’s other future head coaches.
He described Myers as loyal and humble with an uncanny ability to relate to people. No doubt, Myers has the passion for coaching.
“My first year in the league, I played for Doug Collins, one of the most brilliant basketball minds in the game,” said Myers, who was drafted in the sixth round by Chicago out of Arkansas-Little Rock in 1986. “Johnny Bach and Tex Winters were assistants. I had Michael Jordan as the guy I had to go against every day. When you’re kind of born into that environment, it’s like being born into heaven.”
Myers went onto play for seven teams in his nine seasons, not including stints in the old CBA and inItaly. He also played for Phil Jackson, Larry Brown (twice), Pat Riley, George Karl and Jeff Van Gundy.
After his playing career, he spent 12 seasons in the Bulls organization, including nine as an assistant coach where he worked under Scott Skiles and Tom Thibodeau.
All those noted coaches he’s played for and worked under, all those professional he played with and against, has led to a wealth of knowledge. Much of it is being poured onto the Warriors’ youngsters during summer league.
And one of Myers’ favorite methods is story telling.
“The stories he has, you can sit all day long and listen to him telling stories,”Jacksonsaid. “He’s brilliant. He’s not a guy who’s making himself sound like he was Michael Jordan as a player. He’s a realist. He’s telling the story as it is because that’s the kind of guy he is.”