Last month, the Texas Legends hired Bob MacKinnon as their fifth coach in franchise history.
MacKinnon has over three decades of experience on the bench, gained through the college and pro game, including a recent run as head coach of several teams in the NBA Development League, or D-League for short.
Not long after he was hired, he coached the Dallas Maverick’s entry in the Orlando Summer League. The veteran coach was kind enough to answer a few questions by phone, here is that exchange:
LF: How did you like coaching the Mavs in the Orlando Summer League?
MacKinnon: Oh, it was a great experience… To get to know the Mavs’ system and get to work with [Mavs assistant coach] Darrell Armstrong and learn some of the Mavs’ terminology and how Coach [Rick] Carlisle wants it to be taught, just the Mavericks’ way.
LF: The D-League season doesn’t begin until November. How much are you looking forward to starting your tenure with the Legends?
MacKinnon: Well, I can’t wait. It’s a great situation. It’s a great organization. I think it’s one of the best in the D-League for sure, and being affiliated with the Mavericks and being so close to the Mavericks, it makes for a great situation. I can’t wait to get going, get down to Frisco, and get things rolling.
LF: Besides your college and D-League experience, you also spent time coaching in China. What was that like?
MacKinnon: Well, that was different. In China, it’s halfway across the world and the exact opposite time zones, and Chinese culture’s different. It’s a communist country and there’s a lot of different things in going over there. I know a lot of players are going over now. The Chinese, they do love basketball, it’s their second most popular sport. Every game is on TV and they have a great following for each club over there, so the interest level is very high. It was a lot of fun, but it’s just so far away.
LF: Since your father was a coaching lifer, was there ever any chance of you doing anything else with your life other than following him into coaching?
MacKinnon: No, I don’t think so. I grew up, I had four sisters and myself. My dad would take me everywhere because I was the only boy, so I would go recruiting with him when he was in college. It was just a lot of fun. I was always around the teams and stuff. It was just a lot of fun for me to grow up that way.
LF: What is the top priority for a coach in the D-League? Is it developing players, winning games or a healthy mix of both?
MacKinnon: Well, I think there’s a mix of both. I think when you develop players and improve them, those players get placed into winning situations, so I think they go hand-in-hand. I think winning goes along with developing players, and I think there’s a good mix of both. Hopefully, we can do that with the Legends and get [NBA] call-ups along with winning. That’s what we’ll try to do.
LF: You’ve coached at Dr Pepper Arena as a visiting coach on several occasions. What do you remember about the fan support at Legends’ games?
MacKinnon: Oh, I think it’s awesome. Every night you’re playing in front of sold-out crowds and the building’s hopping all the time. I thought, to be honest with you, that it’s one of the best places in the D-League as a visiting coach to come play because a lot of places you go and there’s not a whole lot of energy in the building and you have to get those guys motivated. In Frisco, there’s always energy and it was easy to get guys up to play and play in front of that crowd. I’m looking forward to having that now as a home court advantage. I love the guy with the signs next to the bench that writes stuff on the dry erase board. That’s one of my favorite things in the D-League. I love that. That was one of my favorite things. He was great all the time, so I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
LF: Now that you’ve joined a Mavs organization full of great basketball minds like Rick Carlisle, Del Harris, and Donnie Nelson, just to name a few, how much are you looking forward to tapping into this vast database of basketball experience and knowledge?
MacKinnon: Well, when you’re a basketball person, you want to be around great basketball people. I have access to [Legends Vice President] Del Harris and [Legends President of Basketball Operations] Spud Webb and [Mavs General Manager] Donnie Nelson and [Mavs Director of Player Personnel] Tony Ronzone and [Mavs head coach] Rick Carlisle. When you go down the list of the great basketball people within the organization, I feel like a kid in a candy store.