Kenny Smith is an outsider wanting in. The Detroit Pistons could change that.
Detroit needs a new head coach and reportedly has plans to interview the TNT NBA analyst, who has no prior coaching experience.
The former first-round draft pick out of the University of North Carolina played in the NBA for a decade, making appearances with six teams. He’s mainly known for his six-year stint in Houston, where the Rockets won championships in 1994 and ’95. He hung up all his jerseys in 1997 and put on a suit for TV.
During his final season, Smith made a pit stop in Detroit. He played just nine games for the Pistons.
Smith would not be the first former player to go directly from broadcasting to coaching. Nor is basketball the only sport plucking people out of the booth and plopping them down on the bench; it actually hopped on the trend late compared to baseball.
Here’s some others who paved the path from the booth to the bench:
Aaron Boone (MLB)
The current Yankees manager spent seven years behind the microphone for ESPN, analyzing what he saw rather than dictating what he wanted. A desire to return to the field was fulfilled in 2017 when New York offered Boone a three-year contract, with a team option for 2021, and he returned to the pinstriped uniform.
During his 12-year professional career, Boone played 54 games for the Yankees in 2003, hitting an ALCS-clinching home run against Boston. He mainly spent his time with the Reds – seven seasons – and joined four other teams before announcing his retirement in 2010. That’s when he made the switch to the broadcast booth.
Right now, the Yankees (35-17) have the second-best record in the majors.
Buck Martinez (MLB)
Boone actually went to Martinez for advice, because he made a similar move at the turn of the century: Player. Broadcaster. Manager. Of course, Martinez went back to broadcasting after being fired in his second season.
Martinez played for 17 years, finishing with the Blue Jays. He then became part of the club’s broadcast team. In 2001, Toronto made him its new manager.
Martinez returned to broadcasting with the Orioles. That lasted a couple of years until he took his mic back to the Blue Jays in 2010, where he remains. Martinez is in his eighth season as the team’s play-by-play announcer.
Jerry Coleman (MLB)
Managing didn’t work out too well for Coleman, either. Coleman was in broadcasting for 51 years, giving a voice to baseball until his death in 2014. He took only one year off the job: 1980.
The Padres made Coleman the team’s team manager after eight years in San Diego’s broadcasting booth. He lasted a season, leading the Padres to a 73-89 record, then went right back to where he was most comfortable: behind the microphone. There, the former four-time World Series champion covered two World Series and 18 League Championship Series.
In 2005, Coleman was given the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual Ford C. Frick Award that recognizes broadcasters.
Mark Jackson (NBA)
Enough baseball, back to basketball. Jackson dribbled his way through 17 years in the NBA before calling it quits in 2004. From there, he spent seven years working for ESPN until the Warriors called in 2011 with a job offer.
Jackson coached the Warriors for three seasons, leading Golden State to back-to-back playoff appearances, with young stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. But then he was fired.
Immediately after, ESPN brought Jackson back on its NBA announcing team. He has stayed there ever since and will call the 2018 NBA Finals, where his former team is defending its title.
Steve Kerr (NBA)
Here’s a success story still in the making. Kerr replaced Jackson as Warriors head coach, winning the title in his first season.
But even Kerr isn’t a stranger to the booth. Kerr had no coaching experience prior to the Golden State gig. He did play, though. He’s one of 26 players in NBA history to claim five championship titles. Kerr had also worked as an NBA executive, serving as general manager of the Suns from 2007-10.
Since he was hired away from TNT in 2014, Kerr has had the Warriors in the NBA Finals each season, and they are trying for their third title with him. The Pistons sure wouldn’t mind if Smith could replicate Kerr’s success. (AP)