Being an NBA head coach is often a thankless job.
Sure, the salary is nice. But unless you’re one of the league’s elite head coaches, you’re likely on the wrong end of a ton of criticism and don’t get much credit for your team’s success.
One of the top examples of this is Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue.
Lue was the belle of the ball in the NBA after LA’s run to the Western Conference Finals in 2021. It was just his first year in charge after taking over for Doc Rivers and the Clippers made their run without superstar Kawhi Leonard due to injury.
But this is the NBA, where the only thing that matters is what you have done lately.
Both Leonard and fellow star Paul George battled injuries in 2021-22 as the Clippers went just 42-40 and missed the playoffs altogether.
This season has been much of the same.
Leonard has played in just 46 of LA’s 75 games, while George has played in only 56. The Clippers are 39-36, which is good enough for fifth in the Western Conference by just two games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the final playoff spot.
The struggles have left Lue under a lot of pressure. But nobody could’ve imagined just how much pressure. Lue opened up about how difficult the season has been and what it’s meant for his family life on a recent episode of The Pivot podcast.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said he lost 7 family members since December back home in Missouri, but wasn’t been able to make it to any of the funerals because the team was struggling at the same time.
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) March 27, 2023
“Since December, I lost seven family members from Mexico (Missouri),” Lue said. “But, we lost six games in a row so I can’t leave my team behind. And I know I should be there for my family. It’s been tough times, my family wanted me there and we’re going through some tough times right now.
“…Seven family members since December, and I ain’t go to one funeral because because we lost five games in a row. And so I can take the easy way out and say ‘I’m gonna go home for a week’ or whatever. But I just felt like I couldn’t do that.”
It’s a stark reminder of the rigors that come with NBA coaching And I reminder of why not just anyone can do their job.