Consumed with the distraction of Aaron Heilman’s gopher ball troubles, I neglected to note Thursday’s passing of Butch Van Breda Koff, a 30 year head coaching veteran of the NBA, ABA, collegiate, high school and women’s professional ranks.
Willem Hendrik Breda Koff (above, right), led the Lakers to the ’68 and ’69 NBA finals, coached Hofstra in the both the 50′s and 90′s, was Bill Bradley’s coach at Princeton, and had a 5 year playing stint with the Knicks from 1946-1950. The following passage comes from Frank Litsky’s obit in Friday’s New York Times.
In the final minutes of the seventh and deciding game of the National Basketball Association™s 1969 championship playoffs, Wilt Chamberlain benched himself during the fourth quarter with what van Breda Kolff considered a minor knee injury. When Chamberlain asked to return to the game, van Breda Kolff refused, and the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics by 2 points.
œWe played better when he was out, van Breda Kolff said. œI have no regrets because in my mind at the time I thought it was the right thing to do. The only regret I™ll have would be if I don™t have a team.
Shortly after, van Breda Kolff resigned, but as usual he soon had another team.
His coaching style never changed. When he was 71 and coaching his final season at Hofstra, The New York Times described him as the œanimated, nonstop-gesticulating, chair-kicking, sideline-pacing, expletive-spewing Butch of days gone by. But his teams were well-schooled, emphasizing teamwork, a patient offense and a tough defense.