Monday, November 24, 2008
Wizards fire Jordan after 1-10 start; Tapscott named as interim coach
ESPN.com news services
WASHINGTON -- Eddie Jordan was fired as coach of the Washington Wizards on Monday after opening the season 1-10 without injured starters Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood.
The Wizards' record matches the worst start in franchise history; the only other time the team was 1-10 was in 1966, when it was called the Baltimore Bullets.
The final straw for Jordan appears to have been a 122-117 loss Saturday night to the undermanned New York Knicks, who had only seven players available.
Ed Tapscott, the Wizards' director of player development, will replace Jordan on an interim basis, running his first practice as the team's new head coach Monday morning, a team spokesman told The Associated Press.
Tapscott never has been an NBA head coach, although he has plenty of front-office experience, including as president and chief operating officer of the Charlotte Bobcats and, before that, as vice president of player personnel and basketball operations for the Knicks in the 1990s.
Assistant coach Mike O'Koren was also let go, and the Wizards named Randy Ayers as top assistant coach, a source told ESPN's Ric Bucher.
Jordan was in his sixth season with the Wizards and led the team to the playoffs each of the past four. In September, shortly before the start of training camp, the Wizards picked up a one-year option to keep him under contract through the 2009-10 season.
Jordan came into this season with a 196-214 mark with the Wizards, but that included a rebuilding 25-57 record in his first season. Since then -- with a fast-paced offense built around Arenas and also featuring All-Star forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler -- Jordan helped turn the Wizards around.
Jordan was the East's coach at the 2007 All-Star Game.
But the Wizards have struggled to even be competitive at times this season, with Arenas recovering from his third operation on his left knee in 1½ years, and with Haywood out for perhaps the entire season after surgery on his shooting wrist.
Washington opened 0-5, then beat the Jazz at home to avoid the first 0-6 start in franchise history. That victory, though, was followed by another five-game losing streak.
The only NBA team with a worse record is the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is 1-13 and fired coach P.J. Carlesimo over the weekend.
After Saturday's loss, the Wizards' locker room stayed closed for longer than usual before Jordan emerged.
"First of all, not in our wildest dreams did we think that we'd be 1-10. Now how do you handle that?" Jordan said. "I wish I could give them a manual and say this is how you keep your poise, this is how you suck it up, this is how you stay positive. I can't find a manual like that yet. But, again I reiterated that we don't have losing habits. That's a big thing for us."
Jamison also addressed the rough start to the season Saturday.
"As long as we continue to work hard and continue to believe that we can turn things around, it makes my job easy," said Jamison, the Wizards' captain. "When guys stop playing hard and giving their all is when it becomes difficult for me, but this is a learning curve."
"They're playing in the guts of the game where veterans usually carry you, and we haven't made a big shot when we've needed to, especially tonight," he said.
Tapscott's debut will come Tuesday night, when Washington hosts the Golden State Warriors.
He joined the Wizards' front office in August 2007 after spending a year as an analyst for the team's television broadcasts. He was fired in 2006 by the Bobcats.
Tapscott was an assistant to current Maryland coach Gary Williams at American University in the 1970s and became head coach in 1982. In eight seasons at AU, Tapscott finished with 119 victories.