Not surprisingly, Eric Musselman has added another impressive line to his coaching resume.
Musselman is now the leader of the L.A. D-Fenders — a team he guided to the most regular-season wins (38-12) in league history, and now, to its first appearance in the league Finals.
Ohioans know Musselman as the Brecksville High product whose late father, Bill, coached the Cavaliers and Timberwolves in the 1980s. Eric also spent time as a head coach in the NBA with the Warriors and Kings, as well as an assistant under Doc Rivers (with the Magic) and ex-Cavs coach Mike Fratello (with the Grizzlies).
Eric Musselman played high school ball on the same team with former NBA big man Scott Roth and former NFL punter/quarterback Tom Tupa. He is also a friend of Cavs general manager Chris Grant, as both played college ball at the University of San Diego.
Today, Musselman is making a strong case to return to the NBA, leading a team to the championship series in spite of eight player call-ups.
The D-Fenders begin their title quest in Game 1 Tuesday at Austin — which eliminated expansion franchise Canton in three games in the semifinals. Game 2 is Thursday in Los Angeles, and Game 3, if necessary, is Saturday in L.A.
“Austin is an experienced team with six players who have NBA experience,” Musselman said.
He’s right. The Toros’ roster features forward Julian Wright, and guards Cory Joseph, Carldell Johnson, Justin Dentmon and ex-Cav Flip Murray. They are coached by Brad Jones.
“They’re well-coached, have multiple ball-handlers and have gotten great inside play from Wright and (Eric) Dawson,” Musselman said of the Toros. “They have excellent ball movement, execute very well, and are deep.”
Musselman and the D-Fenders counter with guards Mardy Collins, Orien Greene, Eljiah Millsap, and Andre Ingram, and forwards Malcolm Thomas and Otis George.
Among the D-Fenders’ other accomplishments under Musselman: Leading the D-League in defensive field-goal percentage and owning the league’s highest point-differential. They enter the championship series having won 25 of 27.
All the D-League championship series games will be broadcast on NBA TV and dleague.com.