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Time for change in Boston

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HAND in hand with the drama, excitement and frustrations of sport is the management of athletes and franchises.

University degrees abound in Europe and the United States that give students an understanding of how owners and their appointed managers deal with player trades, venue management, coaching changes and salaries.

As most tertiary or even graduate studies go, the theories and case studies analyzed and dissected can only approximate real-life situations where managers have to deal with egos and emotions. At best, the sports management degrees provide analytical rigor that will at least prepare the potential manager for the grind that lays ahead in the cut-throat and, at times unforgiving, sports world.

The Boston Celtics are undergoing a major revamp, bidding adieu to the core of the team that won their 17th title in 2008. Coach Doc Rivers, the former nimble Atlanta Hawk guard who probably developed his raspy voice yelling at the Celtics, is off to sunny California to handle the LA Clippers.

His departure threw off the NBA hierarchy for a moment because coaches are not usually part of trade packages.  That wrinkle was settled and Rivers is off trying to win a new title with a team that is arguably on the verge of going further in the playoffs next season.

Veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are also gone, ending a recent version of a Big Three in Boston. A year ago, Ray Allen was the first to leave when he opted to play for Miami.  Now, Pierce and Garnett are off to put the finishing touches to Hall of Fame careers with probably one last run with the Brooklyn Nets.

The Boston Celtics have won so much over the years and for their fans, saying goodbye to the core is not an easy thing to do. But sound sports management has clearly spoken: It’s time for the league’s sentimental favorite to rebuild for the future. Thanks for the memories but it’s time to build new ones with a younger team that probably costs less money to maintain.

Here at home, San Miguel’s basketball teams and its now-familiar “rigodon” of coaches was news last week.  It’s a move that PBA fans seemed to have grown accustomed to by now ever since Ato Agustin moved in to replace Siot Tanquingcen at San Miguel. It was the first of the pahiyang (loosely translated in a sports context as “breaks”) that the company would employ for its basketball teams.

San Miguel has every right to shuffle its cards the way it deems fit for its basketball goals. In a way, the coaching positions are distributed almost similarly as managerial slots.  Underperforming managers are moved laterally or given new positions to assess perspectives differently.

A coach once told me that as long as one’s ego is in check, moving from being a head coach to assistant coach is not that hard, but easier if the move is from one team to another.  Change is a reality that coaches are familiar with since there is no firm tenure in basketball coaching where the barometer of performance is still the number of wins and championships.


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