Saying he came up "the hard way" – 10 years in the minor leagues – David Joerger made his Memphis debut as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
During a press conference at the FedExForum, Joerger, who had been an assistant to Lionel Hollins, said his minor-league experience ran the gamut – from being the general manager and head coach to lining up the halftime entertainment and picking up the towels.
"I have an appreciation for being in the NBA," said Joerger, "and I have an appreciation for being in this position."
Joerger became a head coach at age 26, a fortunate experience that he said covered 350 games, ups and downs, "the joy of telling a guy that his dream is being fulfilled and he is going up to the NBA," confrontations, guys injured, losing streaks, win streaks, playoff runs and championships.
In 2007, Joerger and his family landed in Millington, brought into the Grizzlies organization as an assistant by former coach Mike Ivarone. His kids attend Lucy public school and he is a member of first United Methodist Church in Millington.
It was part of making the case that he and his family are involved in the community.
What kind of team?
We're going to push the pace," said Joerger. "We're not going to shoot in the first five seconds of the clock. I think that would be silly, regarding the fact that we have two All-Stars playing the power forward and center positions.
"But by opening up the floor and moving the basketball, and spreading the floor a little bit, they are going to have more room to work," he said. "Other (teams) are not going to have 9 dudes in the paint when Zach (Randolph) is trying to back down and go to work. ...I like three-pointers, but I love lay-ups and I love free throws, and we're going to put pressure on the rim every time down the floor."
The Grizz, he said, are a "defensive-identity team" and will remain that way.
"We're grit and grind and we're the most physical team in the NBA and we're going to continue to be so. But now we are going to be playing a little faster."
Contact with the players
"I've talked with everybody," said Joerger, including dinner last night with Tony Allen. "Everybody is fired up, ready to get back to work and get going. ...They know me in one way (assistant coach). I know what my voice is as a head coach and they are about to see that."
Joerger said he told Allen, "Man, I am going to love on you, but if I love on you all the time, you're not gonna have any respect for me. And I am going to have my foot in your rear end and if I do that all the time, you're going to tune me out in about three seconds."
Returning to his seven years as a head coach in the minors, Joerger said, "I know where the line is. We're going to have relationships with players that are built upon respect, trust and then hard work."
• College – Moorhead State
• Served as head coach of the 2006-07 NBA D-League Champion Dakota Wizards.
• The sixth head coach (15th coach overall) in D-League history to join the NBA coaching ranks.
• Five titles as a head coach.
• Two CBA Coach of the Year honors.
• Joerger and his wife, Kara, are the parents of two daughters, Alli, 6, and Kiana, 3.