Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has had some success in the NBA as he led the Indiana Pacers to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances and gave LeBron James‘ Miami Heat teams more of a challenge than any other team.
However, his most recent coaching gig with the Orlando Magic did not bring the same success.
Vogel went just 54-110 in two seasons with the Magic and even his defense — long his calling card as a head coach — failed to stick with the Magic. In fairness, Vogel didn’t have nearly as good of a roster in Orlando as he did in Indiana. Even still, head coaching opportunities can be few and far between, especially coming off two straight seasons with less than 30 wins.
That was the concern for Vogel after being fired by the Magic following the 2017-18 NBA season. In a recent interview with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, Vogel admitted the lack of interest in him was beginning to take its toll on him:
“I wasn’t coming off the type of success I had in Indiana,” Vogel said. “So I did feel around the league that the interest wasn’t quite as strong … I don’t know if I would say there’s any doubting of myself, but it does take its toll on you. We are human at the end of the day and when you’re not having success as a coach you like to feel like you could take any group and make them play hard, play together, share the basketball, work on a defensive end and win. You know what I mean? But the chips don’t always align that way, you’re not always going to have success.”
As Vogel noted, he had success in Indiana by making four playoff appearances in five seasons, so when he was let go there, he was able to quickly find another job. The same couldn’t be said following his time in Orlando and that would worry anyone in his position, but he remains positive moving forward and feels he’ll be successful in Los Angeles:
“But some of the best coaches in the world have had situations where the stars didn’t align and things didn’t come together, and you just have to keep that in perspective and draw a lot of confidence that your experiences and your successes can help you with your next opportunity. And that’s what I feel about this situation with the Lakers. I feel that each opportunity has been a learning experience for me and will help me grow and be a better coach here in L.A.”
Vogel is one of the bigger question marks regarding the Lakers for the 2019-20 season as he has never coached a team with this kind of pressure. The Lakers brand, the LeBron James brand, and the Anthony Davis trade combine to put an unreal level of pressure on Vogel.
The head coach can oftentimes be the first — and easiest — scapegoat if things go wrong, but Vogel believes he will thrive. There was a lot of drama surrounding his hiring, but if he can bring the Lakers a championship, no one will remember any of that and the worries Vogel had prior to the job will be a thing of the past.