As is the case when someone identifies a new star, postulates a new theory, defines a new algorithm or contracts a rare disease, that person is transcribed into the history books by naming said discovery after their surname. Obviously having a theory named after you is an incredibly life affirming event and is often a rare occurrence. The opposite can be said of naming a disease, a painful reminder of your affliction followed by an agonizing death.
Thus is the life of Alvin Gentry.
You see, Alvin was first diagnosed with Gentry’s Dilemma back in 1997, when he was inflicted with the dreadful “interim” disease in Detroit. Taking over for Doug Collins, Gentry stepped into a quagmire, taking over a team that was clearly on the decline. The franchise was coming off what would have seemed to be a resurgence from the woeful 20 win season in 93/94, amassing 54 wins the previous year [96/7]. Yet it was all a mirage, as Collins managed a sub-500 record early on. Despite the fact that Gentry inherited a superstar in Grant Hill, and another premier wing in Jerry Stackhouse, the team had very little up front and was simply not built to compete. In less than 3 full seasons, Gentry was escorted out the door for fear that the disease would spread.
I took a few years of meds and rehabilitation for Gentry to finally be healthy enough to coach again. Despite the hard work and all of the rehab, Gentry came down with an even more severe case of Gentry’s Dilemma. In 2001 he was named head coach of the LA Clippers, a team know to spread many diseases, most notably the career-ending kind. Taking over that team, Gentry really never had a chance and was sent packing after three seasons.
It was only until he reached Phoenix as an assistant where it seemed he had finally rid himself of the disease. After some contentious squabbling amongst the Suns brass and soon to be ex-terrible coach Mike D’Antoni, Gentry positioned himself nicely to obtain the one opportunity to show that his affliction had been vanquished and he could actually coach in the NBA for more than three seasons without coming down with the yips.
However, like Herpes, it seems that Gentry’s disease simply will not go away. It holds no favor and can strike without warning. Being a nice guy has no impact. Having the respect of your players will not send it into remission. And certainly being a fairly decent coach [in comparison to those in the league] will not tide the ultimate outcome – near certain death.
As it stands, Gentry has taken over the Suns amidst a decline, and his symptoms are rearing their ugly head. Now, I am not calling for Gentry to be quarantined. On the contrary, I have a number of friends with this disease and they have managed through it from time to time. Gentry certainly is a known quantity and hiring another coach will only guarantee that coach will come down with the disease.
Yet it is only a matter of time before the Suns succumb to the pressure and ultimately have to pull his plug.
The only hope is that a miracle cure can be found. Promising therapies have been found but yet to be tested here in the Valley. I heard from a very good source that the best cure to date is winning big, but alas, it is a long shot based on this team as it is currently structured.
I have hope for Gentry, as he is a likeable guy and a decent coach. However, it is more likely that the disease named after him was done so for a reason – because he ultimately will die from it.