Roy Hibbert has a knack for saying the wrong thing to the media. There was his dumb “no homo” joke in the playoffs and the “selfish dudes” comment pointed towards unnamed teammates in the midst of the great collapse of 2013-14. And, now, here’s what Roy had to say in a Q&A with David Aldridge:
In a Q&A with @daldridgetnt, Roy Hibbert said he “wanted to play for a coach who actually played in the league.” http://t.co/6ZCVhgPwiT
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) July 27, 2015
“Hibbert said what? Now he’s bashing Frank Vogel on his way out? Man, I’m so glad he’s gone. What a cheap shot. No respect.” This was the general reaction by Pacers fans and the local media. Here’s a sampling of what I saw on Twitter within a couple hours:
Very disappointed to hear hibbert say he s happy to play for a coach who played in the NBA. Vogel saved his career. Cheap shot.
— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) July 27, 2015
That’s a low blow from Hibbert. Vogel saved his career, moving him from high post to low block. Was reason Roy almost was DPOY in 2013-14.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) July 27, 2015
After Pacers’ playoff loss to Bulls in 2011, Vogel introduced Hibbert to the “Straight-up.” Next summer Roy signed $58 million contract.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) July 27, 2015
A coach who played in the league would have benched him two years ago. Oh, and a summer with Kareem? Did nothing. https://t.co/3KDsM6SnCJ
— Michael Grady (@Grady) July 27, 2015
And always defended & protected Roy publicly. Vogel stays capping for his guys & Roy was benefactor of that loyalty https://t.co/16pryV2U8R
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) July 27, 2015
I could find plenty of similar reactions from fans as well. The people were clearly not happy with Hibbert. Everyone shocked by the apparent lack of loyalty to a man that always stood up for him in the media. So, Roy said he wanted a former player for a coach, but what was the context? Here’s the part of the Q&A that everyone was so upset about:
RH: I’m just going to focus on the defense. I know I said it before, but it’s important to realize I can possibly change the game. When I met with Mitch (Kupchak) and BScott, we came together and we talked about the expectations and what they wanted from me and how I could affect the game. We had a real good talk. I told them, I want to be like that (Andrew) Bogut-type guy, the defensive guy, because we have a lot of guys who can score already on this team. I’m at the point where I want to win a championship, and getting to play with Kobe, it’s an amazing opportunity for me. I wanted to play with a shooting guard or a small forward like Paul (George), who was athletic and can take over games offensively. And I wanted to play for a coach who actually played in the league if I had my own choice. Not to say that Frank (Vogel) wasn’t great. I had some real good times with Frank and we played well. But I told my agent that I possibly wanted to play for a coach that played in the league.
David Aldridge: Why is that important to you?
RH: Just playing for BShaw (Brian Shaw, the Pacers’ former associate head coach under Vogel), he went through the things that a player has gone through. He had a lot of real good insight to help myself, my game, with other guys on the court. Because he went through those things. And when you had two sets of four games in five nights, he was real with us. He would say, if I’m tired, you’re tired. It’s not a huge thing, but I’m really lucky to be in this position.
So, immediately after Hibbert said that he “wanted to play for a coach that actually played in the league,” he also said, “Not to say Frank wasn’t great. I had some real good times with Frank and we played well.” Some people thought this was reason enough to say this shouldn’t be a big deal:
Reading more of what Roy said, he immediately followed it up with calling Frank a great coach. Nothing to see here IMO.
— Hedge Knight (@HedgeKnight84) July 27, 2015
My opinion? That's fair and he might have just wanted to say something nice about his new coach.
— Ben Gibson (@CowboyOnPatrol) July 27, 2015
Personally, I’m on the side that doesn’t think Hibbert was trying to take a shot at Vogel. If you disagree, that’s okay. I just don’t see it. I’m sure Roy appreciates all the times Frank had his back with the media and stuck with him through his struggles with inconsistencies. There’s nothing here to me that says Hibbert doesn’t. When asked why it was important to have a former player as a coach, Hibbert says exactly zero things about Vogel. He doesn’t say what Vogel was lacking by not being a player or suggest that he doesn’t understand the game. Hibbert praises his experience with Brian Shaw, who was the Associate Head Coach for the Pacers for two seasons.
In my opinion, Roy’s finding positives about his future situation in Los Angeles. These are my imagined thoughts from Roy’s mind when he found out he was traded to the Lakers: “Oh, cool. Byron Scott used to be a player. I really liked Brian Shaw. I hope it’s going to be like that.” I think Roy just enjoys playing for a coach that used to play in the league. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect or appreciate Frank Vogel. A lot of players are the same way about wanting a former player for a coach at least in theory. This isn’t to say that Roy’s right to want a former player coach. Byron Scott is easily one of the worst coaches in the modern NBA as he has no use for analytics and doesn’t see the value in the 3-point shot. There are plenty of good, great, bad and terrible examples of coaches on both sides.
It’s also interesting to me that if Roy wanted to bash the Pacers on his way out, he probably would have done it to Larry Bird too. However, he says in that same Q&A that he’ll never say a bad thing about him. So, if Roy doesn’t want to bash Larry Bird, who threw him under the bus in that final press conference, why would he do that to Vogel? Just another reason why I don’t think Roy was being malicious to his former coach with his comments. It wasn’t about Vogel. It was about his new coach and his new team.
Should Roy have been a little more careful with his words especially with his history? Sure. Could he have been more specific in praise with Vogel? Probably. Does that mean he doesn’t respect Vogel or appreciate him having his back? No, it doesn’t. Did we overreact to something when Hibbert, himself, said “it’s not a huge thing” to have a former player for a coach at the end of that section? Possible. Can we agree to read quotes in context so we can form our own opinions before jumping to conclusions? I hope so.