The Wolfpacker

September 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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■ PACK PERSPECTIVE S Nate McMillan Has Another Golden Summer omeone should give Nate McMillan a job. The former NC State guard and Raleigh native is looking, and is eager to land his third NBA head coaching position after successful stints with the Seattle Superson- ics and the Portland Trail Blazers. McMil- lan, who was released by the Blazers in March, looked at a few vacant jobs during the offseason, but frankly he had bigger issues on his mind — the 2012 London Olympics. For the second consecutive quadrennial, McMillan was a member of head coach Mike Krzyzewski's staff that brought the gold medal back to the United States, thanks to the chemistry of a talented col- lection of NBA players. In fact, Krzyzewski and his staff made a little bit of history. Krzyzewski became only the second coach in Team USA his- tory to win back-to-back Olympics, joining legendary coach Hank Iba, who did it in 1964 and '68 and would have done it again in 1972 had game officials not hosed the American team out of another gold medal. The only previous assistant coach to be on staff for back-to-back gold medals was famed industrial league and AAU coach Hank Vaughn of the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots. Vaughn was Iba's sole assistant in those two Olympics. So McMillan and fellow assistants Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and former New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni grabbed a piece of history of their own. It was the perfect end to seven years on staff with Team USA, which won gold medals in the 2008 Olympics, the 2010 FIBA World Championships and the 2012 Olympics. For all intents and purposes, Krzyzewski and the staff hand-picked by former Phoenix Suns owner and USA Bas- ketball director Jerry Colangelo to rebuild and restore American basketball after the devastating loss to Argentina in the 2004 Olympics had accomplished their mission. So, like Krzyzewski, who announced after the Olympics that he would not re- turn for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, McMillan is putting away his Team USA whistle and will begin looking for a new job in the NBA. "Each year has been a challenge for us," McMillan said. "In 2005, we were coming off losing to Argentina, and the reputation of USA Basketball was not really that good. We wanted to not only play well on the floor, but off the floor was just as important. 94 ■ THE WOLFPACKER to both knees, played exactly one season's worth of games (82) over five years. Du- rant, meanwhile, was the 2008 NBA Rookie of the Year and has won three scoring titles for the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder, McMillan's former franchise. It's the second time something like that happened for the Blazers, who famously took Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan with the second pick of the 1984 draft. There were multiple other injuries — in- cluding McMillan's own ruptured Achilles — that derailed the franchise's rebuilding efforts. So the Olympics came at a great time for McMillan, to open his eyes about the state of professional and international basketball. He believes he will be even better prepared when his next opportunity becomes avail- able. "Being part of Team USA has been a McMillan was part of a Team USA coaching staff that won Olympic gold medals in both 2008 and 2012, as well as a World Champion- ship in 2010. PHOTO BY JESSE D. GARRABRANT/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES "Bringing back the reputation of having the best players in the world, but also show- ing that we are a country that respects other countries and their players and the competi- tion of the games was important to us." The Olympics were a great salve for the wound McMillan suffered when he lost his job with the Blazers back in March, when owner Paul Allen overhauled his franchise. It seemed McMillan's entire six seasons with the franchise were cursed, though, not surprisingly, McMillan did a great job in repairing the Blazers' reputation in and around Portland. But injuries and bad timing conspired to hamper the rebuilding process McMil- lan and president Larry Miller were hired to supervise. McMillan went 266-269 in seven seasons and was the third-winningest coach in franchise history. But after three consecutive first-round losses in the play- offs, the Blazers were en route to missing the postseason when Allen began his major overhaul. Things began to go south for the Blazers in 2007, when they chose to take Greg Oden over Kevin Durant with the first pick of the NBA Draft. Oden, hampered by injuries great experience," McMillan said. "I've been extremely fortunate to be able to rep- resent my country as a coach. Amongst my peers, there are a lot of guys who would want that opportunity. I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity, thanks to Mr. Colangelo. He felt I would be able to get the job done. "I will tell you, though, the world has caught up to us. There is a lot of talent in other countries. It was great to be able to repeat, but it was also a huge challenge." Right now, McMillan has been traveling between Raleigh, where he has a home and family, and Portland and Seattle, the two places he has played and coached since leaving NC State in the spring of 1986. He's making daily visits to the gym and enjoying the kind of stress-free existence he didn't have in his final days in Seattle. He's also trying to catch up on some rest after seven consecutive years of coaching in the NBA and working for Team USA. There is no question, however, that the Raleigh native wants to coach again — after a little time off. "I'm looking forward for the opportunity to be over at State a lot and watch the Pack play," McMillan said, knowing that this should be a great year for all fans to do just that. "I'll stay busy with some consulting work and then see if there are some open- ings next year to go back to work. "I certainly look forward for the opportu- nity to get back to the NBA." And someone is certain to give it to him. ■ You may contact Tim Peeler at

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