Kerr, Valentine, and Mugabe – Who’s at the Top Matters

Kelly Lowery explains why Robert Mugabe won’t be winning any Coach of the Year awards. Ever.

The NBA just awarded Steve Kerr the coach of the year for the 2015-2016 season. This award has always been peculiar to me. Mostly because there is great mystery as to how one determines who is the best coach. Is it the guy who simply wins the most games? Surely it can’t be that. Kerr wasn’t even the winningest coach on his own staff. Walton won more games and finished 8th in the voting. Was it the guy who coached his team to the best improvement over last year? Surely it can’t be that either as the Warriors won only 6 more regular season games over their 2014-2015 mark. The truth of the matter is that Kerr is a nice guy. He is witty, well spoken and treats the media well. And, when the media are the ones voting, you end up with a winner who had fewer wins than 4 coaches of teams that didn’t even make the playoffs. So it begs the question. Would the Warriors have won 73 (or more) without Kerr? Does it really matter who’s at the top?

In 1980 Zimbabwe emerged from a war with Great Britain and gained a fragile independence. At the forefront of the military and political struggle was Robert Mugabe. He was the people’s hero. Within days of the victory he was crowned as president and has forceably remained in power ever since. At 92, he is the oldest head of state in the world. As a former colony of Great Britain, Zimbabwe (known then as Rhodesia) flourished as one of the healthiest, growing, attractive countries in all of Africa. The country had a solid infrastructure and the people had food and jobs. Over the course of the last 36 years however, Zimbabwe has been on a steady and sharp decline. Mugabe’s economic policy has been a disaster. In an effort to retain favor among the military leaders he printed money to pay for loyalty. The resulting inflation caused the money to lose value and they eventually disbanded their own currency. The effect Mugabe’s economic policy had on jobs has been devastating. Today, there is more than 80% unemployment. Since Mugabe came into power his government instituted a land re-distribution policy whereby they forceably removed white Zimbabwean commercial farmers from their land, replacing them with black Zimbabwean political and military allies of Mugabe who knew nothing about farming. As a result, according to the UN WHO, more than 1/3 of Zimbabweans are now in emergency need of food aid.

In 2012, the Boston Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine as coach. They were coming off a 2011 campaign that saw them drop 24 games in September to complete the worst stretch run collapse in MLB history. With the dawn of the new season, a new yet very experience big league manager at the helm, there was a lot of optimism surrounding the club. Immediately Valentine came in and made sweeping changes, especially in the clubhouse. He banned the players from drinking beer in the clubhouse and instituted other off day reforms that quickly caused tensions between coach and players. In addition, there were many on the field moves that left fans puzzled. One in particular. Seventh inning, no score, 2 outs and a runner on second. The young Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias was at bat and with a 2-2 count, Valentine calls time out and pinch hits Daniel Nava. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AT BAT! He then went on record to say that the 2012 Red Sox roster was the worst September roster in MLB history. Great leader (sarcasm font needed). Valentine was fired after one season.

For Zimbabwe, only a tiny minority of fearful, intimidated (or paid off) loyalists would say that Zimbabwe is in a better place today than it was 36 years ago. Forget one disastrous season. They’ve had decades. But how do you fire a despot who kills detractors and pays off military and political leaders to stay in power? Bob has said that he won’t leave until the Lord calls him. I don’t know what’s taking him so long. Pray for my friends in Zimbabwe.

At the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season, the Lakers fired Byron Scott who led the team to the two worst records in franchise history. Were these players the worst players the Lakers have ever had, or was Byron Scott the worst coach? Or both? Why is it that when a team is struggling, the first head to roll is the coach? In so doing, isn’t management making that determination that it’s the coach’s fault? But who hired the coach? There is always a general manager that is responsible for putting that coach in place. Where is his accountability? It’s time for GMs everywhere to come out from their corner offices, put down the spreadsheets and own up to the decisions they make. I’m not sure if Steve Kerr should’ve won the Coach of the Year award. What I am sure of, is that there should be a GM of the year award and Bob Meyers should’ve won.

Exactly.

I never heard of him either. That’s the problem.

-Kelly Lowery

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