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McMillan hire great for Blazers

Editor's note: The Portland Trail Blazers hired coach Nate McMillan away from the Seattle SuperSonics on Wednesday night. For the most part, ESPN's analysts and NBA reporters think this is a good hire for the Blazers. Here is a sampling of their opinions.

The Blazers hit the jackpot! Congratulations to owner Paul Allen, who was the first to propose going after Nate McMillan, and to Steve Patterson and John Nash for bringing the quest to fruition.

McMillan is one of the top five coaches in the NBA. He has always gotten the most from his personnel; has always had a solid game plan; and has always been able to delegate role assignments compatible with the skills of his players. Nate maintains a quiet discipline, develops young players, and makes good game adjustments.

He did an incredible job last season at Seattle to produce a playoff team with middle of the pack talent, then to dump Sacramento in the first round, and then to extend eventual NBA champion San Antonio to six games.

McMillan's work was under-appreciated by Sonics management -- a decision it will lament for years to come.

Blazer fans will love him, his players will respect him, and the result will be a resurgent team with a legitimate chance for the playoffs in 2006. I wish him well.
Seattle's loss is the Blazers' big-time gain.

Dr. Jack Ramsay, who coached the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, is an NBA analyst for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com.


Shock was the first word to come to mind when I heard the Portland Trail Blazers hired Nate McMillan. This is interesting because Portland has had the resources and the commitment to winning, while the question with Nate has always been about him getting the chance to win. Although his heart has been in Seattle the chance to win is not there because the SuperSonics are not committed to spending the necessary dollars to try and win a championship.

While we know the commitment is there from Portland's management the real question has been if the competency has been since they've consistently followed one questionable management group with another.

Money alone can't win a championship or even guarantee a chance at one. But from Portland's standpoint this is a step in the right direction. It's also a significant loss for the SuperSonics, who had a proven winner in McMillan and now are left with nothing but uncertainty.

Greg Anthony, an NBA analyst for ESPN and former player, is a regular contributor to Insider.


Truth is, Mr. Sonic, as McMillan has been called after a 19-year playing/coaching career in Seattle, didn't feel much like the franchise namesake last season. A bit alienated from Sonics' management, McMillan coached his finest season with a chip on his shoulder.

It wasn't just that the Sonics refused to give him a contract extension heading into last season, or that they failed to approach him in December after he led the club to a surprisingly hot start. Those were just a few of the reasons McMillan felt he did not have the full support of Seattle's management.

After leading Seattle to a 45-37 mark two years ago -- a notable accomplishment with a limited roster in the Western Conference -- McMillan felt like management began dictating how he should coach the team. It wanted to run and play fast. McMillan was on board with that, but with one caveat. He wanted management to understand that the Sonics' young roster would take time to adjust to the style and take lumps while in the learning process. Management said it understood.

But once the inevitable lumps came (the Sonics were 77-87 from 2002-2004), McMillan thought he was left alone to explain what was wrong. He felt there was no vote of confidence from on high, that management was distancing itself from its coach and his struggles. McMillan also grew weary of hints -- whether perceived or real -- about whom he should be playing.

Click here to read Chris Broussard's Blog entry on Nate McMillan.

Chris Broussard has been writing about NBA basketball for ESPN The Magazine since September 2004 and is a regular contributor to Insider.