Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan led the Portland Trail Blazers from 2005-2012, compiling a 266-269 record. His 16 seasons as a head coach and 645 career wins put him among the deans of the NBA coaching cluster. Today Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune published an extensive essay/interview with McMillan at the center. In it, the former Pacific Northwest fixture remembered teammates, colleagues, and former Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.
After talking about the Pacers for a bit, Eggers cites McMillan’s mild surprise that he’s still coaching after so many seasons.
“When I started, I was taking it one season at a time,” he said. “I didn’t think about how long it would last. When I retired (as a player), I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I got the opportunity to work with [Seattle Supersonics Coach Paul] Westphal, and one thing led to another.
”Sometimes, things happen very quickly in the NBA. To be here and be in coaching this long — I never anticipated it happening.”
McMillan talks about his years in Portland, claiming it as “a great city”. Then he remembers departed friends in Allen and Blazers legend Maurice Lucas, originally a teammate of McMillan’s with the Sonics.
“I can’t get over the loss of Mr. Allen,” he said, the reference to the long-time Blazer owner’s death from cancer in 2018 at age 65. “It just doesn’t seem real to me that he is gone. He was the one who brought me down from Seattle and gave me that opportunity to work in his organization. To see a man who gave so much to me, to a community, to a region, to a country, to a world... to be so young, and he’s gone.
”When I think of Portland, the first thing I think about is Mr. Allen. And Luke is gone, too.”
McMillan then talks about changes in the game since he played, forward Domantas Sabonis and his father Arvydas, and much more. As usual, Eggers gives a buffet full of information and quotes to chew on, covering a subject that nobody else does.