Frank Vogel may not have been the first choice for the Los Angeles Lakers in their search for a new head coach, but he and his staff did a phenomenal job that resulted in the franchise ending a drought and winning their NBA-tying 17th championship.
Vogel impressed in his first season in Los Angeles, showing his tactical prowess — particularly in the playoffs — and quickly proving he was the right fit for the team. And he seemingly won over All-Star LeBron James and Anthony Davis with his meticulous and defense-first approach to the game.
Vogel’s relationship with Lakers superstars and veterans was one of the main components of last season’s success. A feat all the more admirable considering the numerous big personalities on the roster and the pressure of immediate success characteristic for the franchise.
But Vogel faced the challenges with confidence stemming from, he explained to Zach Lowe, believing in himself and not shying away from enforcing his vision even if that could potentially put his position in danger:
“My family having to move around a lot and this being my third head coaching job, I really just wanted to go for it. I wanted to just lay it all out there and be unafraid and really coach my way. Because a lot of times you get coaching jobs in the NBA and you want to bend to appease your front office or your players and sometimes you don’t get to coach your way for various reasons. You want the job security and not have to move your family, all these types of things. My family and I had been through a lot, so I was going to do it my way and live with the results.
“And if that meant that it didn’t work out and we could go back to Indiana or Florida, I could live with that. But this was going to be a situation where I didn’t call a bunch of people to see what LeBron James is like or what Anthony Davis was like. I just said I know what I’m doing, I have a strong belief, I’ve really studied the game over the last few years and how it has transitioned to a modern NBA on both sides of the ball, I just believed in my plan.”
Vogel’s work in L.A. is particularly impressive considering James’ scattered history with former coaches. During his second sting with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the four-time NBA champion allegedly did not get along well with coach David Blatt, who was fired mid-season in 2016 on the team’s way to the championship.
And James’ agent, Rich Paul, reportedly complained about Luke Walton during the three-time MVP’s first season in L.A., with the coach eventually losing his job last year.
Vogel is said to have James’ trust and respect, dating back to their meetings in the Eastern Conference Finals, when the former coached the Indiana Pacers and the latter played for the Miami Heat.
Vogel recalls introductory press conference with Rob Pelinka
Vogel endured an awkward beginning to his reign in Los Angeles — and not only due to being the franchise’s third choice.
On the same day the Lakers held his introductory press conference, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson shocked the NBA community by publicly calling out general manager Rob Pelinka.
And Vogel remembers the awkwardness of the situation, although he remained calm and was impressed by how well Pelinka handled the uncomfortable presser.
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