The curse of the Coach of the Year award

DIME MAGAZINE noticed something very odd with the last few NBA COY winners

2005–06: Avery Johnson, Dallas Mavericks, 60–22 (Fired April 30, 2008)
2006–07: Sam Mitchell, Toronto Raptors, 47–35 (Fired December 3, 2008)
2007–08: Byron Scott, New Orleans Hornets, 56–26 (Fired November 12, 2009)
2008–09: Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers, 66–16 (Fired May 24, 2010)
2009–10: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder, 50–32 (???)

They were all fired within two years. The post goes on to speculate that the reason behind this trend is heightened expectations and I tend to agree. I’d go a step further, however. The award often goes to a coach who “got the most out of his team” (i.e. the team played “over their heads”). When this kind of outlier occurs, it’s far more likely that the team will return to the mean instead of continuing to develop into an NBA champion.

In other words, all it takes is one bad/mediocre season and the guy is a bum again. And with 30 teams vying for a championship, a bad/mediocre season is far more likely than a great one.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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