In advance of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Team Turkey has announced the addition of a new assistant coach: long-time Dallas Maverick and Italian league titlist Rolando Blackman.
Blackman last coached with Team Germany for the 2002 Worlds and was tempted into coming out from behind his desk in the Mavericks front office to do the summer gig for one main reason. “My reason for being here is [Turkey head coach Bogdan] Tanjevic,” Blackman said, since “together we won the Italian league title.”
Fans of European basketball will recall the splash he made in 1995-96, coming over to Stefanel Milano after a half-season with Greek League championship finalist AEK Athens BC. Blackman went for 15.3 points per game that year with Milano and the team nearly completed a triple crown by taking the Italian Cup and Serie A championship, but losing in the Korać Cup to Efes Pilsen.
“I am very happy to work with [Tanjevic],” said Blackman. “He is a great coach. Knowledge of the game of basketball is everything, and Tanjevic knows the most.”
Blackman’s career in the ‘States was quite a memorable one as well. A monstrous four years at Kansas State University (he was three times named All-Big Eight and Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year, just for starters) got him a spot on 1980’s Team USA and he was drafted no. 9 overall by the Mavs. After 11 seasons in Dallas, Blackman departed Texas as the franchise’s no. 1 all-time scorer with four all-star nods to close his career with the New York Knicks.
Blackman’s last game ‘Stateside represented the finish to his first and only appearance in the NBA Finals, that egregious game seven in the 2003-04 championship against the Houston Rockets. Wikipedia claims that “During the 2006 NBA Finals, Blackman’s former coach with the New York Knicks, Pat Riley, admitted, publicly for the first time, that sitting Rolando Blackman in favor of John Starks during Games 6 and 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals was the biggest coaching mistake in his career and that he has never forgiven himself for it.” Since this opinion jibes nicely with that of BallinEurope, BiE’ll report it as fact here.
Tanjevic said he envisioned Blackman’s role as mainly to provide ideas on “what to do in defense and attack[ing].”
On his part, Blackman is quite optimistic: “The Istanbul Cup will give us a chance to see where we are. The team is ready to win the tournament. Everyone is taking responsibility for each other and giving each other support.”
The Adidas Istanbul Cup starts Friday; other teams in the tournament include FIBA World Championship contenders Iran, Serbia and New Zealand.