Former San Antonio Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo is still remembered fondly by Spurs fans after his departure from the team in 2007. Carlesimo was hired that offseason by then Seattle Sonics but only lasted a year as he was dismissed in 2008. He worked as an analyst for ESPN and gave points of views from a coaching standpoint for their programs. He was an assistant head coach for the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets.
After Avery Johnson's firing, Carlesimo was promoted for the head coaching job. It was a bitter sweet moment for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who's friends with both men. Johnson was Popovich's point guard and helped San Antonio capture its first NBA title in 1999 and Carlisemo joined the Spurs in 2002 and also helped the Spurs win a few more titles.
Pop has a history with both men, so you could understand how he felt when he had to talk to both men after Johnson's firing.
"You make one call to one, then you call the next one and it’s a strange feeling. But I love them both and now I wish all the best for P.J. and hope it works out."
While Pop is glad P.J. is getting another shot as a head coach, his Spurs had the Nets' number this season. San Antonio defeated Brooklyn with ease in a 104-73 victory and also last night with a 111-86 blowout. Pop's fun attitude toward his friend showed before the game when he joked about having his number.
"We kicked (P.J.’s) ass. We just drilled him. And we loved it. We just made jokes at each other the whole game. He’s done a good job. They’ve reacted well to him, and seem to believe in what he’s doing. I don’t know what the hell he’s doing. I didn’t know what the he was doing when he was with the Spurs.
The Nets have improved under Carlesimo, both on the court and in the lockeroom so Pop's assessment is correct. It seems the third time may be a charm in P.J.'s case and he knows it might be his final chance to prove that he can help coach a winning team. The Nets aren't looking to just get into the playoffs, but to win an NBA title. This may be Carlesimo's best chance to finally win a ring as head coach, that is if he doesn't meet his mentor Gregg Popovich in the playoffs.