If you can keep your dignity and decency while those around you are acting like jerks and low-lifes, then you’re — Tyrone Corbin, the coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Corbin has shown class under fire while Kings primary owner Vivek Ranadive and his palace guard let him twist slowly in the wind as they connive to get rid of him. Corbin was thrust into a mess after his bosses fired coach Michael Malone in mid-December. He has tried to make the best of the troubled team he inherited and shoulders the burden of the team’s 7-20 record under his command without complaint.
“My job is to coach the team,” he said as the Kings, 18-33 overall, head to Milwaukee for tonight’s game. “We’ve got to make sure we got our minds wrapped around the last game before the All-Star break, give a good effort and see what happens.”
Speculation has been rampant that Corbin will be fired by this weekend and longtime coach George Karl hired. Karl has a 1,131-756 NBA coaching record and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2013 with Denver.
Corbin, who had been Malone’s assistant, endured the indignity of being named “interim” head coach in mid-December while Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro publicly said he was unable to commit to Corbin for the rest of the season. Such an action quickly undercut Corbin’s clout with the players, most of whom were angry about Malone’s ouster. On top of that, Ranadive and his henchmen pushed Corbin to play an uptempo game ill-suited to star Demarcus Cousins’ talents.
Two weeks later, a story appeared in the Sacramento Bee saying that the Kings had signed Corbin to be coach for the rest of the season and would be given the rest of the season to see if he can implement the faster-paced offense the front office and ownership want.
Amazingly, neither Ranadive nor his executives had called a press conference to announce this seeming vote of confidence. In fact, the story emerged a week after the change; Corbin was the source; and the players, including Cousins, were taken by surprise.
Now, we have the cheap public spectacle of the Kings’ executives apparently going back on their commitment to Corbin and courting Karl, the team’s star center making bizarre comments about God’s plan, and Cousins’ agents trying to undermine the deal.
Why a winner like Karl even entertains the idea of working with the dysfunctional Kings’ executive team is a mystery.
Through it all, Corbin has taken the high road. In today’s Bee sports section, he said: “I can’t feel sorry for myself and allow these guys to feel sorry for themselves. We’re going to try and do our jobs to the best of our ability. That’s all anybody can ask.”
Sacramentans should hold a Tyrone Corbin appreciation day and let him know we respect his dignity, class and grace under pressure.