Facebook Twitter



So the Phoenix Suns' mogul Cecil B. DeColangelo has decided to do a sequel to "The Westphal Story," with Cotton Fitzsimmons reprising his role as the veteran mentor and Danny Ainge cast as the precocious pupil who will one day replace him.

Since they haven't even started shooting yet, it's really too early to tell whether this will be a hit or not. But as sequels go, you'd have to say this one has a better chance than most.Most teams don't do things this way.

Strike that.

No other team does things this way.

Or at least if any other team in any sport ever gave a man his very first professional job as an assistant and the head coaching job in the very same news conference, I missed it.

And now, owner-president-CEO-innovator Jerry Colangelo has done it twice now. There has never been a transition game like this in the history of hoop.

Although the news conference Thursday was to announce Ainge's appointment as an assistant, he was introduced by Colangelo as "the future head coach of the Suns."

Actually, calling first Westy and now Danny an assistant coach was and is a misnomer anyway.

The correct title for this most unusual of sports positions is apprentice head coach.

Ainge actually didn't want to serve an apprenticeship. That's why he turned down an assistant's job a year ago. But now he has seen the light and is willing to, as Colangelo put it, "pay his dues."

He also saw that whereas a year ago a young head coach was in place and the road to the top was of undetermined length, there is now a grizzled veteran in place who is quite comfortable with the notion that as soon as he gets the team clearly headed back in the right direction, he will step aside.

Bringing in Ainge as apprentice head coach under Westphal clearly would have been unthinkable for the parties of all parts, but with Cotton it makes a lot of sense.

Colangelo hailed the signing of Ainge as a "major, major addition to this franchise," and it may well turn out to be just that.

With Ainge you get all of Westphal's pluses (and there were and are many) and none of his minuses (and obviously there were a couple).

Both have bright basketball minds, but Ainge is more open-minded and aggressive than Westphal and, at least it says here, more driven to be a successful coach.