The Indiana Pacers have hired a new head coach – former NBA player Nate McMillan. The Pacers president Larry Bird promoted McMillan from assistant coach to head coach on May 16, ESPN reported.
McMillan will substitute Frank Vogel at his new position.
“We will respect the game,” McMillan said during a news conference. “What I mean by respect the game is that you mentally and physically have to prepare yourself to go out and play hard every single night.”
“I like what he did in Portland, I like the fact that he’s old-school, I like structure,” said Bird, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations. “I’m not saying Frank didn’t have those things, but I’ve always admired Nate from afar and that’s why it didn’t take me long to decide to bring him in here.”
McMillan has previously coached Seattle Sonics and Portland TrailBlazers, also working as an assistant with the USA Basketball.
In 2013, Vogel brought McMillan to Indiana, which gave him three years to develop the kind of relationships with players, staff and Bird that the Pacers hope will lead to a smooth transition.
“It’s not like you have to get up in players’ faces and yell and scream anymore,” Bird said. “But you do have to have control and I think Nate will do that.”
As for McMillan, his challenge will be to get players to respond to a tough, unwavering message.
“I think some of us coaches who were coaching at that time (around 2005), they called us old school and there is a lot of old school in me,” he said. “But I do understand you have to adapt with this generation of players, which we call the millennials, and how you communicate with them.”
McMillan played 12 seasons in the NBA, all for the currently non-existent Seattle Supersonics. He played in total 796 regular season games (started 373), averaging 5.9 ppg, 6.1 apg and 1.9 spg in 25.7 mpg.
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