The world of coaching is flat-out wacky, my friends.
Think about what happened on Tuesday. The Detroit Pistons fired Flip Saunders while the Tampa Bay Lightning gave the ziggy to John Tortorella. Isn't it unbelievable that if you don't win the championship in your sport, you are considered by some as a failure.
That is the mentality we have in sports today. Think about what Avery Johnson did with the Mavericks and Mike D'Antoni accomplished with the Suns. They had incredible records, but it was not enough and they were away from those respective teams.
Saunders did some job over three seasons with the Pistons, sporting an impressive 176-70 record, with three trips to the Eastern Conference finals. Don't you think a number of owners and front office types would be happy if their teams put up those kind of stats! It is not good enough in today's world. You have to cut down the nets and win the title or you are short of the goal and suddenly out of a job.
It's the same for the Lightning; if you don't hoist the Stanley Cup, it is not good enough. How quickly they forget what Tortorella meant to the Tampa Bay franchise. He brought credibility and respect to the Lightning organization. He led the team to the playoffs four times in 6 1/2 years, including a Stanley Cup championship in 2004.
Trust me, I did not know anything about the Lightning even living in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. When Tortorella came aboard, I learned a lot about them! He brought discipline, passion and a tremendous work ethic to the club, and it was felt by all.
The bottom line is everything is evaluated based on today. Tampa Bay made some deals where talent went bye-bye, including Brad Richards. The coach gets all of the blame and it cost Tortorella the job.
Ownership certainly has the right to make that decision. I know the old adage that coaches are hired to be fired. People don't realize how tough it is to bounce back after being fired. I know first hand because I remember when Pistons owner Bill Davidson came to my house and gave me the ziggy. I felt so low and disappointed.
Let me tell you, Saunders and Tortorella will bounce back. They both know how to build a winner.
We live in an incredible era, where everyone wants instant gratification. If you don't win it today, you are a failure. Those guys are not failures … they are winners. They will respond in a positive way, representing another organization. Someone will be smart enough to give them that opportunity.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.