NBA Roundtable

Link: Article On Mario Elie

In Coaches Corner on March 14, 2010 at 1:50 am

The Sacramento Bee reports

Being a coach isn’t just about filling out a starting lineup and drawing up plays. Sometimes a coach needs to speak the truth, no matter how uncomfortable.

Sean Elliott, then a Spurs forward who now works as a television analyst on San Antonio broadcasts, recalled Elie’s impact.

“For years, we had the talent, but we didn’t have that person in the locker room, that personality who would really go after our big guns,” Elliott said. “If Dave (Robinson) didn’t play well, if Tim (Duncan) didn’t play well, Mario would jump on them. And we didn’t have that type of guy before that.

“We were always a friendly a team, good to each other, wouldn’t say a bad word to each other, but Mario was that kind of guy that brought a toughness.”

You don’t work your way from playing overseas and through the minor leagues of basketball to becoming a key player on three championship teams without some grit.

More on Elie’s transition to coaching

“You have to learn to separate that player that’s still in you to be a coach,” Elie said. “I feel like now I finally do have it out of my system. … There’s some things that our guys do that I wish I could just go out there and just help out as a teammate, not as a coach. But when you’re in a suit, all you can do is show them and tell them.”

Elie is also still learning when to get on a player and when to hold back, something he didn’t have to do as player.

“Sometimes I give it to them a little harder, and I’ve got to learn to give it to them smoother,” Elie said. “It’s just my passion for the game. I sort of come off a little tough sometimes, but at the end I love the guys and I just want them to be good.”

  1. I have always been a Mario Ellie fan too! I’m glad I am not the only person talking about overseas basketball. Check out my site if you want to learn all about how overseas basketball works and what not.

  2. I’d be willing to place a sizable wager that Mario Elie is eventually going to be a very successful head coach in the NBA.

  3. Hey Augie Johnston, Welcome to the site!

    I’m a big Mario Elie fan too. He was one of my favourite role players throughout the 90’s. Tough, hard nosed, clutch and skilled performer.

    Hey Khandor,

    Yeah, I’ve always though Elie would make a good Head Coach.

    I am a bit surprised that he has moved around as much as he has as an assistant coach though. I wonder what that is about. I think it’s good for assistants to move because sometimes they get overlooked if they remain with one head coach for too long (Thibodeau under JVG) but I’d like to see him stay in one place for 3-4 seasons at a time. I think all this movement will make it difficult for teams to get a firm grasp of his abilities as a coach.

  4. Thanks for this piece Dave, it was a good read.

  5. Dave,

    Mario Elie knows what process he went through to eventually become a solid NBA player and it seems as though he is intent on following a similar path to becoming a head coach in this league one day in the future.

    I, for one, sincerely hope that he is afforded this opportunity by the “gate-keepers” in the NBA who are responsible for making those decisions.

    All too often, however, old biases/grudges prevent otherwise very good candidates for head coach positions from ever getting that chance [i.e. see Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Dave Cowens, Michael Cooper, Bill Laimbeer, Patrick Ewing, etc.].

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