David Fizdale has been through a rollercoaster of a week, leading the 47-year-old coach to taking charge of the Los Angeles Lakers in the middle of a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Fizdale first missed the overtime 107-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks last week due to personal reasons. A few days later, he learned that Frank Vogel joined fellow assistant Phil Handy in entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols — meaning he would temporarily assume the head coach position.
Fizdale previously gave credit to Vogel for preparing him well for the unexpected transition, emphasizing L.A’s chief’s knack for organization. However, the acting Lakers head coach acknowledged he is still getting used to communicating with the rest of the staff from afar when providing an update on the health of Vogel.
“Frank is doing better, he’s doing great,” Fizdale said of his principal’s well-being on Wednesday. “We had our Zoom meeting this morning, it’s new for me, all of this communication coaching-wise and media-wise via Zoom. But it is what it is.
“I said it last night, this is the lay of our land. The less we get caught up in the so-called negative of it, the better. So I don’t really complain about any of it, I just take it in stride and I do whatever Coach Vogel is asking of me.”
Fizdale said he wasn’t worried about the reception he would receive from the team when it turned out he needed to fill in for Vogel as the main person in charge.
“I don’t want to answer for them, but for me, I take myself out of it. It’s not about me,” he said. “I’m just a vessel here. I’m here to deliver information and try to give them the best opportunity to be successful and not get caught up in ‘are they respecting me’ or ‘are they listening to me?’ I feel like I’ve done enough that they respect me, so I’m not worried about that.
“I’m not hunting for respect, I don’t want anything from them other than their own success and I think they know that that’s where I’m coming from whether it’s with our coaching staff or with the players. I’m just here to serve and that’s just my approach to this, that’s my purpose in this.
“So for me, it’s really just more of being selfless about it and trying to be honest about what I’m delivering and I think in that message, if it’s coming off with honesty and purity, that they’re gonna receive it correctly and so far they have.”
In fact, Fizdale said, the reaction to his transition into the acting head coach has so far been a positive experience.
“We’ve really had a great energy about it, a solution mindset on when things go wrong and they’ve been extremely helpful to me during the games when I’m trying to coach these games and navigate situations and rotations things like that,” he said.
“The veterans have been the ones that are really holding me up. Ultimately, it’s been fun, but Frank needs to come home!”
Fizdale doesn’t know when Vogel will return
Fizdale said he didn’t know when Vogel would reunite with the Lakers and added he would serve L.A. to the best of his ability for as long as the head coach remains out.
“I’m ready if they need me to step in that seat and I’m ready if I need to be there to support Frank,” Fizdale said.
“It’s a day-to-day situation and we’re not gonna get caught up in how unfortunate all of this is or how disruptive it is because all we can control is our response to it and my response is to serve.”
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