The first time I heard of Mike Dunlap conducting a four-hour NBA practice I wondered if he was really cut out for an NBA head-coaching job.
Turns out he isn't -- at least not according to the team that hired him. The Bobcats consigned Dunlap to the embarrassing area where Sam Vincent's NBA head-coaching career ended up Tuesday, firing him after a single season.
Someone who would know told me that in the team's annual season-ending exit interviews that Dunlap received a number of negative evaluations from current Bobcat players -- not only for those occasional long practices but for his general demeanor with them. Dunlap was just a demanding, negative sort of guy -- smart with Xs and Os, but snappish and hard to relate to. He was a boss that many of the players didn't particularly like working for.
Has that worked for some other basketball coaches? Sure. You could name dozens who weren't warm and cuddly and still won and kept jobs. And if Dunlap's only Bobcat team had done a lot better than 21-61 -- the NBA's second-worst record in 2012-13 -- he would still be employed here. But if you're going to micro-manage a lot and not get along that well with your players in the NBA, you sure better win a lot.
And so once again owner Michael Jordan and the Bobcats find themselves on Limbo Island, a place where they have lived so often in their team history that I believe they decided to buy a three-bedroom house there and set up residence instead of simply renting a place every summer. They have no head coach and are about to have to hire their sixth one (for a team that only began playing in 2004!). They have a lot of cap room but no all-star on the roster. They have another high draft pick coming up but no guarantee he will work out any better than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo, Adam Morrison and on and on and on. They have made the playoffs only once in team history and have never won a playoff game. And they aren't even sure whether they will be the Bobcats or return to the "Charlotte Hornets" nickname for the long term (they should become the "Hornets" and sprint away from this sad history).
The Bobcats have been a mess for much of their existence, and they are still a mess. I would agree that Dunlap showed he wasn't the right guy to clean it up, so today's decision makes a certain amount of sense. But the one where they decided to hire him originally? That one, as the Bobcats have now admitted by firing him after one season, was a serious mistake.