Grizzlies coach Joerger goes from Staples-Motley all the way to the NBA

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 22, 2013 - 7:26 AM

Dave Joerger’s initial ambition was to coach at Staples-Motley High. He’s gone a bit past that now.

hide

Dave Joerger has no problem walking around without being noticed, unlike many NBA coaches. At least for now.

Photo: Jim Weber, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

– A man now suddenly without a team, future Hall of Fame coach George Karl, nonetheless attracted quite a crowd while he walked the arena concourses at the Las Vegas Summer League last week, although a trailing television crew with a boom microphone helped draw attention.

Former head coach Sam Mitchell, too, gathered a steady stream of well-wishers as he sat at far-flung table and conducted interviews for satellite radio.

And then there was new Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger, a gainfully employed up-and-comer hired in June who navigated the crowds and sat courtside wearing a team logoed golf shirt unnoticed.

“I don’t have any problem going wherever I want,” he said. “I don’t think that’ll ever be a problem.”

Of course that could change if the 39-year-old, first-time NBA head coach reaches the same levels of success he achieved by winning five titles in seven seasons in the sport’s minor leagues — the International Basketball Association, Continental Basketball Associate and the NBA’s D League — last decade.

A guy who once aspired to coach the same Staples-Motley, Minn., high-school team for which he played now belongs to a very select club that numbers only 30 men in the world.

It’s an opportunity for which he has worked nearly his entire adult life, even since he volunteered for a minor-league team called the Fargo-Moorhead Beez and worked his way up from there to Bismarck, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D., and in doing so won more minor-league titles than Karl, Phil Jackson, Flip Saunders and Eric Musselman did combined in their years starting out there.

“You’re all the experiences you go through and maybe this isn’t the end for me, either,’’ said Joerger, who played collegiately at Division II Minnesota State Moorhead.

‘‘I certainly have a lot more to learn.”

A Grizzlies assistant coach for the past six seasons, he was promoted on draft day after his team couldn’t agree with head coach Lionel Hollins on a new contract. Hollins entrusted him with the defense the past two seasons, and the Grizzlies have become one of the league’s best defensive teams while winning a franchise-record 56 games last season under Hollins.

“Lionel is comfortable in his own skin,” Joerger said. “He does a great job being who he is, and that’s something I need to be also. These guys know me as an assistant coach and now I’m going to be a head coach in demeanor and everything, but I still have to be who I am. If I try to be something different, it’s not going to work.”

He is a hard-working career coach who washed jerseys and booked halftime acts when he was assistant coach/general manager in Bismarck and credits part of his success to coaches such as Karl and Saunders, both of whom welcome him to their training camps a decade or more ago.

Joerger spent several days watching Saunders during the Wolves’ 2003 training camp when Saunders taught his intricate offense to newcomers Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell on a team that reached the Western Conference finals that season.

“I love the way Flip coaches offense,” Joerger said. “I can’t get enough. I’ve stolen a lot of stuff. Flip, George, Phil Jackson, those guys are legendary in the CBA. They set the bar pretty high, and I wanted to be like those guys. I never worried about the NBA.”

But here he is, six years after then-Grizzlies head coach Marc Iavaroni brought him to Memphis and two months after the team decided to move on from Hollins by promoting Joerger after it had interviewed Karl and two others.

Here he was back at summer league for the 15th consecutive year, ever since he was 24. Many years, he came searching to recruit players bound for Europe or the American minor leagues after their NBA dreams died in July or looking for a job.

Now he has arrived at the top of his profession with a four-year contract that reportedly will pay him $1.5 million annually and with an established, veteran, winning team no less.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 16 4th Qtr 7:40
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 31 3rd Qtr 8:28
Arizona 13
San Diego St 7 3rd Qtr 12:13
Oregon State 14
(2) Oregon 21 3rd Qtr
Washington St 21
Louisiana 3 3rd Qtr
Boise State 21
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 2nd Half 5:00
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close