Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel recently missed six games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols following a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test. In his absence, lead assistant David Fizdale took over head coaching duties.
Although the Lakers went 1-5 in the games that Fizdale coached, the record does not tell the entire story of his coaching ability. The Lakers were missing nearly half of their regular rotation in these games, and three of the losses were hard-fought to opponents with more of their weapons at their disposal.
Even still, Vogel felt like he learned something while watching Fizdale coach his team, praising him for a phenomenal effort during the six games.
“A little bit. I think when another guy has an opportunity to coach and to sort of use his instincts, whether it’s rotations or sets or ways to use certain guys, there’s always a few things you can pick up that will be slightly different,” Vogel said. “And I think that was the case with Coach Fiz.
“I thought that Coach Fiz did a phenomenal job, not a decent job, a phenomenal job in my absence. I think our team grew. It didn’t show up, unfortunately, in the win/loss column as much as we all would’ve wanted it to, but our team grew during this stretch. I think some of the growth areas that we saw are gonna pay dividends for us going forward in helping us win games.”
On a personal level, Vogel said he was happy for Fizdale to have this opportunity given how close they’ve grown to be throughout the year. “We’ve had remarkable chemistry from the time we started working together this summer,” Vogel said of he and Fizdale’s relationship. “We’ve even brought ideas to each other that we’ve already literally shown a video clip or some notes and said ‘I already had that same thought.’
“So our chemistry has been strong and to see him step in there and do a good job for us, I was happy for him. Obviously wanted to see him get a few more wins because he poured his heart into it and I do think he moved the needle for us in terms of growing our team.”
With all of the uncertainty surrounding Vogel’s job security earlier in the season, these comments absolutely help to show how in sync the Lakers’ coaching staff is. During Fizdale’s short tenure, he spent plenty of time praising Vogel for his leadership and preparedness.
It doesn’t appear as though Vogel’s job is on the line the way it was in November. There seems to be confidence from the players and other coaches that Vogel is the right man to lead this team, especially if they focus on adding defensive talent like Stanley Johnson.
Vogel happy to be back
Vogel did not have a pleasant experience with COVID and did not enjoy having to miss six games. He spoke about his time in the protocols and how happy he is to be back.
“It’s something I really never want to do again,” Vogel said. “I don’t think I’ve ever missed a game as a head coach, so to miss six was challenging. Obviously physically challenging for what I was going through, but mentally challenging as well.
“Being in isolation, trying to help your team and your staff as much as you can remotely, giving input but also trying to empower them to coach the team and use their gut and their instincts and the whole thing was challenging. I’m happy to be back.”
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