Mitchell 'worst coach'

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

First, Sam Mitchell was poison.

Now, according to a poll of 248 NBA players by Sports Illustrated, the Raptors coach simply is the worst.

Mitchell, in a tight contest, was voted worst coach in the NBA by 15% of the players in a poll started in December, edging Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson (13.3). During the pre-season, SI named Mitchell to its "all-poison team."

Mitchell, however, isn't going to lose sleep over the results.

"In my short year and a half, I've coached 248 players," Mitchell said sarcastically. "That's very interesting.

"Stuff like that is not a concern of mine. If you ask the few players who have played for me, I'm sure they would beg to differ. How do you respond to that? ... My players and the guys who have played for me in my short stint, I feel confident they don't feel that way and the people (above him in the organization) don't feel that way."

Mitchell remembers not giving much thought to similar votes when he was a player.

"When I played and they asked us polls, I probably took as much time giving it attention as I would any other poll," Mitchell said. "I'll leave it at that.

"It's not even worth my time to continue to talk about such nonsense like that. How do you defend that? How does anybody defend anybody who has never played for you, never been around you, (doesn't) know you. It's not even worth it. I think we've spent too much time on it already."

Mitchell's players came to his defence.

"We got off to a 1-15 start and I think that's probably when they did the poll," Morris Peterson said. "I would have to say that's not accurate. I think coach has done a great job in only his second year. I think he has grown a lot. I've seen a big change from the beginning of last year until now."

Mike James said all coaches are going to be despised by certain players.

"I'm pretty sure everyone didn't say John Wooden was one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game," James said. " I'm sure there are a lot of players who played for UCLA who probably hate them to this day. I'm sure Dean Smith isn't a father figure to everyone who comes to North Carolina. You take it with a grain of salt."

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was named best coach with 31.9% of the vote, beating out the Los Angeles Lakers' Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks' Larry Brown, whose team is behind the Raptors in the standings.


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