Lionel Hollins was not a popular man in the Brooklyn Nets locker room.
Andy Vasquez of The Record of Bergen County in New Jersey reported on Friday that his sources could not name a single Brooklyn player who liked Hollins. Vasquez’s sources said Nets players felt that the coach was condescending, negative, and vindictive.
Players who questioned Hollins reportedly ended up in the coach’s doghouse. Hollins also allegedly rarely took responsibility for the team’s woes, instead blaming the team and their play.
The team’s attitude toward Hollins – and subsequent change under interim coach Tony Brown – was evident in Thaddeus Young’s quotes after the team’s comeback win over the Knicks on Wednesday.
“When your coach is not panicking and he’s staying positive and he’s continued to motivate us, it’s huge for us as far as an energy standpoint,” Young said. “It makes us want to continue to go out there and continue to play, and it doesn’t keep us thinking about what’s happening before as much.
“Our tendencies before was we were harping on the fact that we were giving up leads and we were harping on the fact that we had some plays where we turned the ball over,” Young continued. “But [Brown’s] mentality is: ‘Forget about what happened before this, and let’s try to make a push and try to win this game.’ That’s huge for us as a team. It says a lot that he believes in us, that he wants us to compete, he believes that we can continue to win the game at any point.”
The Nets fired Hollins on Sunday along with general manager Billy King, and have already begun looking for replacements, though it seems unlikely their top choice will be coming. Given the attitudes in the Brooklyn locker room, perhaps a disciplinarian-type coach like this potential candidate wouldn’t be the best idea.