INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Loyalty and patience are attributes rarely associated with professional sports these days, but last night the Los Angeles Lakers decided they were traits worth rewarding.
After seven years as an assistant in Los Angeles on the staffs of Pat Riley and Mike Dunleavy, Randy Pfund was named the 14th coach in Lakers history, spokesman John Black said. Pfund, 40, will sign a multi-year deal today to end a search that began last week when Dunleavy stepped down to become coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
"I'm very familiar with our players and I'm familiar with the system," Pfund said last week. "[GM] Jerry [West] talked a little bit about stability, and at this point that might be one of the things that makes some sense."
Basically, Pfund fit the profile. Beginning with Jack McKinney in 1979, the Lakers coach has been a well-regarded assistant, and not one of those journeymen who seem to bounce from one head coaching job to another.
When McKinney was seriously injured in a bicycle accident just 13 games into the 1979-80 season, one of his assistants, Paul Westhead, was chosen to take over. When Westhead was fired 11 games into the '81-82 season, Riley was promoted off the Lakers bench.
And when West went searching after Riley's departure in 1990, he came up with Dunleavy, a 36-year-old assistant on the staff of the Milwaukee Bucks. So when Dunleavy left last week, West was asked if he was likely to go the same route in selecting his next coach.
"I would assume that would be the path we take," West said at Dunleavy's farewell news conference. "It leads to a lot of criticism, but I don't know, I just feel comfortable with people I think are wide-eyed and enthusiastic."
There was never any doubt that Pfund was both of those.