Los Angeles Lakers head coach, Frank Vogel has always thrived because of his attention to detail and because many of the teams that he has coached have thrived defensively.
A former head coach with both the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers, Vogel worked his way up the ranks as a former Division 3 basketball player at Juniata College in Pennsylvania.
After transferring to the University of Kentucky, where he was a student manager under head coach Rick Pitino, Vogel began the NBA process as a head video coordinator for the Boston Celtics for five years before becoming an assistant coach. Vogel would later become an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers, became an advance scout for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2005 to 2006 and the Washington Wizards from 2006 to 2007.
Vogel then became an Indiana Pacers assistant under Jim O’Brien and years later would become head coach of the Pacers after O’Brien was fired.
Appearing on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, I discussed the early years of O’Brien with former Pacers guard, Earl Watson.
“You knew he had the potential to be great just by the way he interacted with players,” Watson told me.
“It’s no secret that the NBA is predominately African-American, right? And if you can’t understand the culture, you can’t coach your team and I don’t see how that ever debated in being true. When you really start to unpack coaching, you start unpacking the front office, you start unpacking representation; there needs to be more representation beyond the front of the optics of the camera; and what I mean by that is the front of the bench is pretty much mixed with Black and White. But if you go behind the bench, that’s where your next head coaches are – the seat/ row behind. And if we go to the front office, it is really limited with African-Americans and if we go representation of coaches, I don’t know maybe one Black coaching agency and we got to start having that representation; and I think Vogel had that ability to connect t the culture. To have a basketball IQ is brilliant but, to have a high basketball IQ and connect with the culture and to understand the culture is what makes a great coach and I don’t think a lot of people talk about that because it’s true. If you really study Coach Wooden, you study how he fought for the culture and he refused to play in the Final Four until they started letting African-Americans play in the NCAA Tournament and stay in the same hotels until the NAACP was like, “Win it. Now you have the whole world watching and you can say exactly how you feel…” so you have to understand the culture to be great in basketball at any level.”
After his tenure with the Pacers, Vogel had a coaching stint with the Orlando Magic. After his time with the Magic he later became head coach of the Lakers. Vogel won his first NBA Championship last season while guiding a LeBron James, Anthony Davis-led LA team to an NBA Finals win over the Miami Heat.