A coaching legend in the American Basketball Association, there’s few coaches at any level who have found the consistent success like Steve Tucker has. The head coach of Phillips College when he was just twenty two years old, Coach Tucker has had his fair share of stops along the way, including coaching in seven different professional leagues. Currently, the head coach of the Shreveport-Bassier Mavericks, the reigning 2013-2014 ABA Champions, we were able to secure an online interview with the stand-out coach to recap some his stellar career and what’s in store for the future.
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PHW: First of all, you’re coming off arguably the greatest season in ABA history with the Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks, a year in which your team went 34-0 and won the ABA Championship. What made this year’s team so special that they were able to dominate the competition like they did?
ST: We had a very special group of men that made up our team. From the core group that has been with us all of these years, to the newcomers that meshed in so well within what we do with our Mavericks. We do things a little differently, from practicing twice daily all season long to the work habits we demand from our players on a daily basis. This team to a man, bought into doing things the “Mavericks way” and it showed up in our discipline both on and off the court. This group of special men bonded together to form a special team that made history and along the way, won another championship. It was truly a special team.
PHW: The ABA season may not start until November but already, I’m sure you’re getting your team prepared in one way or another. What has the off-season been like following last year’s success and what are the expectations for the upcoming season?
ST: As a coaching staff, we met the morning after we won the Championship to start mapping out our strategy to make the “Drive to Win #4”! So we started that process immediately. Our public/community relations staff have been busy the entire off-season within our Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana community making appearances and keeping our pro basketball organization consistently involved in the cities. Our coaches and players have also been deeply involved in this process. Our marketing department has been busy as well with corporate sponsorships and season ticket sales. We have also had many basketball clinics and camps, so we’ve all been busy selling the product that is “Mavericks Pro Basketball”. To be successful, you have to work at it! You cannot live on your laurels! You must stay active and that has been the make up of our off-season with our Mavericks. We have had an outstanding recruiting year too and we’ve filled our needs for our team. We felt we needed to get younger and more athletic and we feel we have done just that. Our only expectation is to win it again next season! Go Mavs – Mav Up!!! The “Drive for #4” is on!
PHW: You have so many coaching accolades that they’re almost hard to keep track of but some of them include being named National Coach of the Year by Eurobasket/USBasket and Pro Basketball News and being a mainstay on the sidelines of the ABA All-Star game. What do you believe it is about your coaching style that has made you such a successful coach?
ST: I have been very fortunate over the years, for I’ve coached some outstanding and very talented players. I’ve also had some excellent coaches work with me on my coaching staffs. I must give most of the credit to them for they’ve all helped me so much. The awards and such, I share in with all of them. I do believe that my intensity to get the job done, meticulous planning and work ethic are things that help me. There are many out there who have great knowledge of the game but there is no one who is going to out work me on a consistent daily basis. I will keep going when others falter! That is something that I’ve always possessed and it is my greatest strength. It has helped me through my successes and failures. It is something I always go to for guidance as I keep moving forward.
PHW: You’ve been named ABA National Coach of the Year four times and you had a huge honor bestowed upon you when you were named ABA Coach of the Decade for 2001-2010. What does an accolade like that mean to your personally?
ST: You’re always touched when good things like that happen to you. I’m very humbled to have been honored in so many ways over the years. I’m blessed! Whenever success crosses your path, I think you have to keep things in perspective. I have a great owner and friend in Mr. Jerry Nelson, who allows me the stage to do what I do. His belief in me has allowed me the opportunity to build a special professional basketball team and organization with our Mavericks. What I have achieved has come through the successes of our team and I am so thankful to have an owner who allows me the opportunity to teach and coach the game of basketball.
PHW: You’ve coached in a lot of different places and different leagues, including at the collegiate level, in the United Kingdom and in handful of different professional leagues here in the United States. However, lately you’ve really seemed to find a home in the ABA. What makes a league like the ABA the perfect fit for a veteran coach like yourself?
ST: Over the years, I have seen the good and the bad the game of professional and college basketball brings to the table as a whole (so to speak). I have worked with an awful lot of good people and I’ve worked with some bad ones too. I’ve learned from both over the years. All have had an impact on me. All in some way have helped in what we’ve built here with our Mavericks. Jerry Nelson and I have had to overcome a lot together to have built what we’ve built here with our Mavericks. Right now, I am working with the best person I’ve ever worked with in pro sports in Ms. Debra Green, our General Manager of our Mavericks. Debra and I are quite a team and we work so well together. She has been such a big part of what we’re doing with our pro basketball organization here. What we do fits perfectly into the American Basketball Association. It fits because the makeup of the ABA gives you the freedom to build your organization and team in the way that you want to build it. So many pro basketball leagues in the USA and around the world truly tie your hands. We’ve been allowed through working within the ABA, to build the Mavericks into the vision we have for our Mavs. We are allowed to work in the manner that is best for us and that has allowed us to build something truly special. For me, I still have great goals and aspirations. I still would like to be a head coach in the NBA, for I believe that what we do within our program and system is special. I have no doubt it would work in the NBA and it would win championships on that level too. Jerry Nelson calls how we play “The System”. All I know is that I am going to keep teaching and coaching our system for as long as God will allow me to. It is special to be a basketball coach and I am honored to have been just that for many years. I know that for sure!
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