Many people were shocked when Larry Bird fired Frank Vogel in May. In fact, many people were angry with Bird for the way he handled it. They felt he was a little too forthcoming to media and insulted Vogel by disclosing some particulars of their private discussion.
Vogel, however, wasn’t offended.
“Well, I love Larry,” the newly minted Magic head coach said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I certainly wasn’t happy with the decision to be let go, but he’s been so good to me and is really a close friend. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime a couple years back. Larry does things a little bit differently, so all that stuff that a lot of people were offended by, I was not offended by. You have to know Larry to understand that’s the way he does things sometimes. You have to respect him for making a difficult decision.”
Vogel, 42, had a great run with the Pacers, twice leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals. He inherits an Orlando team that went 35-47 last year and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2012.
“We’re still going to focus on defense and rebounding,” he said. “I think that’s where winning begins. I think what we did this past season in Indiana was we tried to change our style of play, tried to play with more defensive versatility, with more speed on the offensive end. I learned a lot of lessons in that transition that I feel like we can carry over to this year’s roster with the Orlando Magic, and maintain that defensive proficiency that we’ve been able to accomplish in Indiana while improving on the offensive end and hopefully taking this young core, with the right additions in free agency, and making a big run here over the next few years.”
Vogel also stressed the importance of connecting with his players. From David Blatt to George Karl, many coaches don’t survive certain stints because players don’t trust them or get along with them or feel their have their best interests at heart.
Vogel doesn’t think that will be an issue in Orlando.
“I believe you have to over-communicate in today’s NBA,” he said. “You have to really connect with these guys. The word ‘relationships’ is not an unimportant word. You have to build these relationships, and you have to build trust, and you have to show these guys that you’re on their side and working with them – not only to build a winner, but to help them in their careers and you have to be genuine about it and you have to be positive. Those things are not always easy to do when you’re trying to manage the grind of an 82-game season, the great competition that we face at this level – those are not easy to do. But that’s where it starts: communication and treating these guys with respect.”