Sampson: 'It would have been a great opportunity'
Kelvin Sampson realizes that, despite not getting the Milwaukee Bucks' head-coaching job, that he has a good thing going as a Rockets assistant coach.
Many had thought Sampson's ties to the Bucks organization as a former Milwaukee assistant coach had him as a frontrunner once he was selected as one of two finalists, along with former Hawks head coach Larry Drew. Bucks' sideline reporter Telly Hughes told CSN Houston prior to the Bucks' final selection that he couldn't see how the Bucks could pass on Coach Sampson. Yet, that's what the Bucks did, going with Drew.
"You're never surprised by anything in the NBA," Sampson said on Monday. "It would've been a great opportunity. But Senator Kohl, John Hammond... those guys made the decision they thought was best for them. I thank them for the opportunity and I think they selected an outstanding coach in Larry Drew."
Sampson's name has been linked in reports to jobs in Milwaukee, Charlotte, Phoenix, and Philadelphia. As with most assistant coaches, his dream is to one day become an NBA head coach.
"No different than anybody else," he said. "The one thing you learn in coaching, and I've been a head coach a long time, is I'm still learning. Every year, it's something.
"If and when the time comes, you're appreciative of the opportunity and, if not, I have a great situation here (in Houston). I think I've got one of the best jobs in the NBA. We've got an exciting offseason going on. We've got a lot of good, young players - guys that are going to get better and better. If you look at the NBA and decide who's got an arrow up beside their team's name and who has an arrow pointing down, our team has an arrow pointing up, so that's exciting to me."
Rockets players were appreciative of whatever time they have left with Sampson.
"Oh yeah, I'm cherishing the moment," Greg Smith said. "He's one of the greatest coaches I've played with because you know he's a player's coach. He talks to us. He tells me a lot. He tells me how I can be a great player in the league. He knows how I can do it. He knows how talented I am, so he always wants the best out of me so seeing him here every day, I want to work out with him and take all the knowledge I can from him because one day if he leaves, I'll know I got everything I can out of him that'll help me in my career."