By Joe Davidson
Rick Adelman worshipped the Lakers in the 1960s. Watched them practice, watched them compete at the Great Western Forum.
Favorite player was Jerry West. Second favorite was Elgin Baylor.
Then he coached against them. Now might he coach them?
Reports are circulating that the Lakers have expressed "serious" interest in the former Kings coach for a variety of reasons. Adelman is a proven product. He works well with veteran teams, taking Portland to the NBA Finals twice and getting the Kings to the cusp of the Finals in 2002. He kept the Rockets competitive in recent seasons despite myriad injuries.
And Adelman's corner motion offense is similar to the Lakers' triangle. But what about Brian Shaw, Phil Jackson's longtime assistant? Lakers players such as Kobe Bryant - and he carries a little weight here - has expressed a desire to have Shaw remain.
Yet here's the real kicker: would Adelman even want the Lakers gig?
There are enough reasons to suggest a "yes" here - it's the Lakers and Kobe is still a monster talent. But there are other factors in play here, should it get to the point of a job offer.
Adelman has in the past taken a year off to recharge after leaving an organization, and he just parted with the Rockets. I couldn't track him down today because he is probably in the woods of Oregon, where his family spends the offseasons. Adelman has contemplated retirement before and might be doing just that now.
And Adelman is not a big-media city kind of guy. He was comfortable in small-market Portland and Sacramento but never aspired to work in a major market. He is a private man, not eager to make community appearances or engage in media sessions. Dealing with the media isn't coaching, sure, but it's a major part of the job in a major-market city.
The Lakers reside in a media giant with a great deal more coverage, demands, expectations. Adelman could be candid and hilarious in interviews once he gets to know you. But unlike the rest of his NBA peers, Adelman didn't regularly participate in game-day shoot-around or pre-game media sessions. He wouldn't turn it down. It just wasn't this thing. In L.A., this is a mandatory thing - talking - because the Lakers are always big news.
Of more intrigue, Adelman has deep ties to Los Angeles. Does he coach his last NBA team in his native back yard? He was a prep star there. He excelled at Loyola in college as a team-captain guard.
Here's some dialogue from an interview I had with Adelman in a post-practice from last decade, when he was with the Kings. His affection for the Lakers of yesteryear was clear, as was his humor:
"I grew up in L.A., and West was my favorite player. They practiced at Loyola University when I played there and we got to watch them practice. Don't tell the NCAA, but we got tickets to games.
"I remember one game against Cincinnati, and four guys had 45 points or better - West, Baylor, (Jerry) Lucas, (Oscar) Robertson. West hit one shot to put it into overtime, then a second for another overtime and one in the corner to win the game as he ran off. Elgin was really good, unbelievable. He was only 6-5, a great rebounder, could take any shot you wanted. West was unstoppable.
"Back then, you couldn't double-team guys. You had to stay five feet off your own guy. David Stern wasn't the commissioner then."