Eric Musselman learned something when he was a younster from maybe the greatest football coach of all time that has obviously made a huge impact with the early success he’s had in basketball.
Paul Brown is the only coach in history to win championships at the high school, college and professional level. He invented an awful lot of what you see in the game today (face masks, radio in the quarterbacks’ helmets, using game film, quizzes for players on the playbook, practice squads and the draw play).
He also founded two professional football teams in the same state and won titles in two different leagues.
And Musselman got something when his dad, Bill, was coaching in the old American Basketball Association (think red, white and blue basketballs).
“One day I came home from school and there was a guy sitting at our dinner table by the name of Paul Brown,” Musselman told Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns in their show on ESPN Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon. “My dad had asked him to come over because Paul Brown was retired and living in San Diego.”
The meeting was for a very specific reason.
“My dad had a meeting with Paul Brown about your very first team meeting,” Musselman said. “I remember coach Paul Brown saying in the first three minutes your team is going to determine if they’re going to buy into you. That little lesson has stuck with me.”
In hindsight if you remember the video of former coach Chad Morris’ first meeting with his team the lesson Musselman learned at a young age held true.
It obviously makes a difference and it was a big part of why he turned to football when he was fired by Golden State in 2004.
“I was lucky enough the Oakland Raiders let me come into their building,” Musselman said. “Michael Lombardi, who was the GM at the time, allowed me to have an office there. I would go in and watch NBA film then I would go watch some of the Raiders practices. I sat in on the NFL Draft with Michael Lombardi and learned as much as I could.”
Then he went to watch Jon Gruden at Tampa Bay.
“I spent time there on the practice field trying to watch some of the things they did,” Musselman said. “A lot of things we do from a game prep on game night is actually stolen from a lot of the stuff Jon Gruden did in his two-minute offense or Red Zone offense and stuff.”
The football angle was something else passed down from his dad, who was known in basketball as a coach who’s teams were always prepared.
“My dad originally played college football and his first job was as a football coach, not a basketball coach,” Musselman said. “I’ve tried to study as many football coaches as I possibly can because of the organizational skills of a football coach.”
And Bill Musselman took some of that football organization into the basketball world.
But Eric has spent time around some basketball coaches noted for being into the minute details.
“I’ve been around so many great coaches,” he said Wednesday. “I worked for Chuck Daly who was an incredible preparation guy. I worked for Hubie Brown and he’s the most meticulous guy I’ve worked for. Mike Fratello overly detailed and Doc Rivers. I’ve been around some great coaches to learn from.”
And that list included maybe the greatest football coach of all time.