Bucket list: Tim Cone says NBA Summer League coaching stint a dream come true
MANILA, Philippines–Multi-titled coach Tim Cone is crossing off an item on his bucket list by being tapped as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat in the upcoming NBA Summer League.
The Barangay Ginebra mentor will be joining the sidelines as an assistant to the Heat’s Malik Allen in the 11-day off-season exhibition tournament, which gives a glimpse of the NBA teams’ newest draftees playing alongside young players and other free agents. No star players suit up for such tournaments.
“I don’t really know everything that’s going on until I get there. I know I’m going to be treated as one of the staff which is really amazing,” said Cone after Ginebra’s comeback win over NLEX on Wednesday. “I’m assistant in any way I can…Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
“I don’t know what the general public knows what the Summer League really is. They think it’s me coaching the Miami heat. But the Summer League is a different animal altogether.”
Cone is the second figure from the PBA to participate in the NBA Summer League as coach after Jimmy Alapag did it with the Sacramento Kings twice.
The veteran PBA mentor said he is excited to see the in and outs of coaching an NBA team, even just on a small scale.
“This is a bucket list. You see from the TV, even when you go to an NBA game and you see all that stuff on the court then they leave the court and you wonder what the heck is going in the locker room–what are they talking about, what are they doing, what do they do pre-game or post-game. Is it like us?” Cone said.
“I’ve always had that in my mind, and for the first time I might get a small preview of what goes on in that locker room and that to me is the most exciting.”
Cone credited Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who is a good friend, for affording him the opportunity to experience the guest coaching post and Alapag for paving the way.
“Coach Spo found out about Jimmy [coaching in the Summer League]… I have to give Jimmy the credit for putting it in the mind of Spo. I’m just totally shocked to be able to do this. There’s just no reason Spo to allow me to do this at all. It’s amazing.”
‘PURELY GUEST COACHING’
But at 64 years old with a cabinet full of championship hardware as the PBA’s winningest coach, Cone doesn’t see the move as a step forward to pursuing a career in the NBA.
“Spoelstra knows I’m not interested in that. This is just purely a guest coaching thing. I’m coming home. There’s no intention for me and certainly no intention for Spo and the Miami Heat,” clarified Cone.
“It’s a step forward for me because of the knowledge that I’m going to gain and that’s enough for me. I’m home. I don’t need to go anywhere.”
Cone knows the reality of starting from the bottom in the NBA to kick off a coaching career, the same track Spoelstra had taken on his way to becoming one of the Heat’s most successful coaches.
It is also the path that Alapag, a former Gilas Pilipinas captain and now an assistant coach with Sacramento Kings’ affiliate Stockton Kings, is also taking now.
At this point in his illustrious coaching career, Cone is simply looking forward to bringing back what he could learn in his short stint overseas and applying it to Ginebra as he tries to steer the league’s most popular team to more titles.
“They’re gonna build the foundation of the team [in the Summer League] so it’s gonna something I’ll be able to observe. So those are the things that are really exciting for me from a coaching standpoint,” he said.
“Things I hope I can learn from, bring back to Ginebra and I’m sure anything I bring back to Ginebra and Ginebra does with any success [others] will follow and be able to do it as well. It’s a dream come true.”