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Gentry hoping to end Clippers’ troubled past

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LOS ANGELES — Alvin Gentry has only one complaint about the Los Angeles Clippers.

"The only thing distracting about this job is I've got suits older than most of the players here," Gentry said Thursday after being introduced as the Clippers' head coach.

"This is basically a college atmosphere. I don't want to treat these guys as babies," the 45-year-old Gentry said. "We have to make them understand that this is a job and there are responsibilities that go with that."

Gentry, fired by the Detroit Pistons in March, takes over a franchise loaded with young talent and burdened with a troubled history. The hiring fills a void left when the Clippers fired Chris Ford in February and decided not to hire interim coach Jim Todd after the team finished with an NBA-worst 15-67 record.

Gentry steered away from commenting on the franchise's troubled past.

"We've got to be judged on what happens from this day forward," he said.

The Clippers signed Gentry to a four-year deal, and terms of the contract were not disclosed.

He accepted a job as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs on June 16 and turned down a similar offer from the Atlanta Hawks three days earlier.

Gentry's hiring capped a busy week in which the Clippers signed first-round draft picks Darius Miles, Keyon Dooling and Quentin Richardson.

The new coach made no secret that the reconstituted team will be built around Lamar Odom, the budding second-year star.

"I'm not afraid to tell the other guys that this is his team. I look at him and I see the same talent as Grant Hill," said Gentry, who coached the star forward in Detroit.

Elgin Baylor, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations, said Gentry's attitude will be a key to the season.

"I think it's important to get someone with the right temperament to work with the players and improve them," he said.

Gentry compiled an 88-93 record during parts of four seasons as a head coach, most recently with Detroit, where he was 28-30 last season and 73-72 overall before being fired on March 6.

His first head coaching stint was with Miami, taking over in an interim capacity in February 1995 and finishing that season with a 15-21 record.

He also was an assistant with the Clippers during the 1990-91 season.