Friday, September 2, 2011

Good Riddance, Tim Cone

It's difficult not to write about Tim Cone, or his parting ways with the Alaska Aces basketball team. After all, even if you're not really a die hard PBA fan, I guess  you would still know him. First, it came as a rumor. But then, when there's smoke, there's really fire. And yesterday, with their management in complete cast, Fred Uytengsu, the "Alaska Man" announced the news. With that, it ended what sportswriters say as the longest and most successful team-mentor partnership in the Philippine Basketball Association. Some good things really don't last.

Tim Cone was the face of the PBA in the 90's together with his stars Johnny Abarrientos, Bong Hawkins, and Jojo Lastimosa. That was their decade, their glorious era, winning a grand slam in 1996 and a near triple crown in 1998. All in all, in Tim's 22 years as coach, they won 13 championships, and 25 Finals appearances. Throughout these years, you see this man, always in white long sleeve and tie, walking to and from the bench, kneeling, and often exploding and arguing with the referees. All his assistants were also in that long sleeve-tie attire, the only team in the PBA who don such formal dress code. Look at the NBA coaches. They are always prim and proper in their formal suits. That was perhaps Tim's badge in the PBA, not so much that he's an American used to such dress code. But it gives some formality and serves notice that basketball, or PBA, is not just play but also business.

Why he's leaving is obviously the big question. He and Fred Uytengsu, the owner, are best of friends even before the PBA days. Officially, they said, he's taking a new career, will take a rest, a change in direction, such and such. But the grapevine said that Tim was disappointed and frustrated that while  other teams are focused on building up their teams by signing up marquee players, etc, Alaska is in no mood to do that. In fact, it seems to disintegrate, releasing top gun Joe Devance with other stars like LA Tenorio and Cyrus Baguio ready to be traded. Years ago, Kobe Bryant threatened to leave the Lakers if Management will not sign up ( read: invest) players who can support him in their title bids. That time, the Lakers just can barely make it to the play-offs. So Management satisfied Kobe, and the last build up was the transfer of Pau Gasol from Memphies.Instantly, that season, the Lakers became serious title contenders, winning the Western Conference. It got short though in the Finals when they got clobbered by their old rival in the East, the Boston Celtics in a dream match. They redeemed themselves the next year and reigned supreme for 3 years. That's basketball and that's business.

It is not farfetched though that we will see Tim Cone again, perhaps sooner than expected.  Maybe also in a different uniform.     


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