Not every player loves Maurice Cheeks

Maurice Cheeks, a former 76ers All-Star player, should appeal to the Pistons players who want a coach who is a competitor, open and honest. By all accounts, Cheeks is very likable as a person because he possesses all those traits and that should make playing for him enjoyable.

But this seems to have extended to a belief that all his players have respected him and played hard for him at all times. This is simply not the case.

Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:

Wells also “verbally abused” Cheeks twice during games before 2003, once earning a third-quarter benching and once receiving no punishment.

ESPN:

Bonzi Wells was suspended for one game in March 2003 for cussing at Cheeks during a practice.

Associated Press in November 2003:

The Portland Trail Blazers suspended guard Bonzi Wells for two games without pay and stripped him of his title as co-captain Tuesday after he cursed at coach Maurice Cheeks during a game the night before.

"It just gets old. I’m sick of it," Cheeks said at the Blazers’ Tualatin practice facility. "I’m sick of always saying he didn’t mean it and all that. Players have to be accountable for what they do and what they say."

Wells swore at Cheeks on his way back to the bench and stood on the sideline and continued a profanity-laced tirade. Wells sat out the final 16:17 of the game, and the Blazers quickly lost the lead. The Mavericks went on to win 105-98.

Cheeks, who signed a one-year contract extension last week, was still visibly angry Tuesday over the incident, just the latest for the embattled team.

"Disrespect is disrespect," he said.

ESPN in January 2005:

Trail Blazers forward Darius Miles was suspended by the team for two games Friday after a verbal clash with coach Maurice Cheeks during a film session the day before.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that Cheeks is contemplating resigning as a result of the incident. Cheeks has been frustrated all season by Miles’ frequent tardiness and other behavioral problems, Smith reported.

"He blew up in the film session," said Cheeks, who characterized Miles’ comments as inappropriate.

According to The (Portland) Oregonian newspaper, Miles repeatedly called Cheeks a racial epithet.

Brian Gomez of The Gazette in January 2007:

Allen Iverson said today that he probably wouldn’t have been traded to the Denver Nuggets if Philadelphia 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks had managed personnel better and listened to his input. Iverson said he received no response after telling Cheeks that Andre Iguodala wasn’t a good fit at point guard. He said he wanted Philadelphia to trade him after he realized “what I was saying didn’t matter to the organization and to the coaching staff.”

Asked if he could have prevented his relationship with Cheeks from souring, Iverson said, “Maybe if I didn’t complain about losing. Maybe if I would have continued to feel like it was OK to lose basketball games. Maybe if I didn’t have any pride. Maybe if I didn’t have any competitiveness in me. Maybe if I didn’t have any heart, I wouldn’t have said anything about it. “You lose 12 out of 14, 18 out of 20 basketball games, something needs to be done. Something needs to be said. You’ve got to look at something else besides Allen Iverson.”

E. James Beale of Philadelphia City Paper in December 2008:

On top of all this, the players are tuning out the coach’s advice. Next time you’re at a game, watch the huddle closely during a time-out: More often than not, the Sixers are glancing at the Jumbotron and leaning back in their chairs instead of focusing on their coach and his clipboard. It’s not that the guys don’t like Cheeks — they do — it’s that he’s become a fun uncle to them, someone they like but don’t see as a source of wisdom. The team continues to play hard, but effort only means so much when your opponent knows their plays and you don’t.

Update: Matt Barnes also had issues with Cheeks (beginning at 4:09):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0g9uaC7wtw?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Bonzi Wells, Darius Miles and Allen Iverson can be difficult on a head coach. But so can Iverson, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey, and that didn’t stop  Michael Curry, John Kuester and Lawrence Frank from being criticized for the disharmony that came with dealing with those Pistons.

Some of the details of players’ incidents with Cheeks – Wells repeatedly abusing him before being punished, considering re-signing because of Miles’ poor professionalism – also seem troubling. That doesn’t strike me as a coach who was capable of nipping these types of issues in the bud, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

Cheeks very well could connect with this group of Pistons and never have any personal problems with them, but to assume he will is to ignore history.

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Tags: Allen Iverson Bonzi Wells Darius Miles John Kuester Matt Barnes Maurice Cheeks Richard Hamilton Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince

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