There was tons of suspense during the NBA Finals over who would take home the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy, but little over the fate of one of the men who helped his team get there.
That the Pelicans’ had their eye on Phoenix assistant coach Willie Green to be their new head coach was the worst kept secret in basketball. Friday, they made it official and welcomed Green, who’d played for the Hornets in 2010 and 2011, back home.
His hiring is cause for cautious optimism around the Smoothie King Center. Green has a winning history in Phoenix, where he worked under former Pelicans coach Monty Williams to bring the Suns to the finals, and previously with the storied Golden State Warriors. As the Pelicans' new leader, he represents a badly needed reset following Stan Van Gundy’s sole, frustrating season.
At 39, Green will be one of the NBA’s youngest coaches. The hope is that he’ll pull the pieces together quickly and connect with the teams’ young stars, as he had a reputation of doing elsewhere.
“The best coaches aren't necessarily the ones that talk about Xs and Os,” Green told the Suns.com last year. “It’s doing everything from a place of love. People feel that.”
Green will surely get a warm welcome from New Orleanians, who also know how to show the love.
That’s never more true than when they get to celebrate a winning season.