Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 10:20 am  |  41 responses

Nate McMillan Cried After Being Fired By the Portland Trailblazers

After losing to the New York Knicks by 42 points, the most humiliating blow to the Blazers’ calamitous season, head coach Nate McMillan was fired after seven seasons at the helm. It was an emotional affair for him. From the Oregonian: “The ship ran aground and he was the captain. As a result, he will take the blame. ‘I mean, we were playing some bad basketball. Something was going to happen, you just knew it,’ McMillan said Tuesday in his first interview since his firing. ‘To sit here and think that I wasn’t going to be looked at … I wasn’t sitting here thinking I was untouchable. They made a tough decision, but they made it, and I respect that.’ […] No matter what the obstacles had been, be it an ever-revolving management team or major injuries, McMillan had always found a way to win in Portland. So it was vexing to him why he wasn’t able to get the results from a team that had a mix of rising stars, seasoned veterans and players trying to earn new contracts. On Tuesday, he was still unwilling to acknowledge the widely accepted belief that his players had tuned him out and, worse yet, had stopped playing for him. ‘As a group, we just hadn’t connected on the floor with each other, and that was the big thing,’ McMillan said. It was a problem he could never solve this season. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. As the season wore on, and the losses and margin of losses mounted, McMillan said he was increasingly unable to sleep. It was after one of those sleepless nights when his phone rang last week. It was team president Larry Miller. His final moments as Trail Blazers coach had arrived. McMillan had watched the sun rise over the Chicago skyline Thursday morning, the consolation prize to a tortured night with his thoughts that kept him awake all night. The Blazers had been beaten by 42 points the night earlier by New York, and McMillan wrestled with the words he would next deliver to his spiraling team. He would never get the chance. When Miller called, he started with small talk, but quickly got to the point. He said the Blazers were going in a different direction, and it was going to start with replacing McMillan. The phone line went silent. […] ‘When everybody else started to find out, I knew then it was for real, that this really happened, you are no longer a Blazer. You are no longer the head coach of the Blazers,’ McMillan said. He eventually called his wife, Michelle, who called their son and daughter, who immediately called their father. A couple of hours after being informed, the reality had sunk in. And so came the emotions. He cried.”

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  • http://www.slamonline.com megatron

    He will be back in the league soon enough

  • http://caseyvaughn.com AlbertBarr

    Nate McMillan is a true pro and a great coach. Despite the result he obviously cared very deeply about his team. cosign megatron.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    lot of teams needs a coach like McMillan, yeah he’ll be back…ummm..to the Knicks?? lol

  • AD

    clippers… VDN isnt that badd tho.

  • RunNGun

    Nate to the Washington Generals makes a lot of sense for the development of John Wall.

  • http://www.fullc0urtpress.com KHOLIDAY

    That’s passion right there… Most ppl get fired and bad mouth their former employer… Nate took responsibility, and kept it moving… Good luck to em! He’s a good coach… He’ll be back in the league soon!

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    RunNGun, bingo

  • Top$helf

    Too many injuries no more Brandon Roy never really had Greg Oden he deserves a fresh start

  • riggs

    I never got why they fired him, it wasn’t his fault AT ALL. Oh well, he’s going to definately have another job next season.


    Hold your head up Nate!

  • Kablamo

    Pistons could use him….o and Jesus

  • lisa

    That’s BS! He coached that team better than what was expected of him. The Blazers had no true star for a while, up until LA started to take over. That’s messed up. He will be coaching soon…. Maybe the Lakers?

  • Zack

    Someone tell Mike to pick him up in Charlotte. I don’t even think the proverbial Jesus could help them though.


    Pistons already have a great coach.

  • Jerry Lin

    He’s gonna be a strong candidate for the new team in Seattle.

  • L Dribble

    Have you heard of these things called a paragraphs?

  • add

    terrible decision by the blazers

  • http://www.twitter.com DFrance21

    Such short leashes in the coaching profession that these GMs fail to realize what they have. Nate is a great coach and did the best with what he had. Imagine if the Celtics would have fired Doc after that horrible losing season before the big 3 arrived? But they knew they had a great coach that would prosper with better personnel.


    Felton a coach killer? lol

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    I don’t get it. Blazers lose Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, and Joel P. for the better part of 2/3 seasons and still find a way to remain a respectable playoff team with Nate at the helm. How many coaches could do what he did with the set backs that the Blazers had to endure? Regardless, he’s a stand up guy, a pro’s pro, and there’s no way he’s not a head/assistant coach next year.

  • dazzy


  • http://www.nba.com VanCityBBall

    well its not like he was the luckiest coach ever, losing a BRoy and Oden… he is a great coach and im 100% sure he will be picked up in like, 4 seconds next season

  • http://www.michaelcho.com M Cho

    Nate did a hell of job during his time with the Blazers. Any coach that can handle the amount of injuries he had and still make the playoffs is a good coach. Kudos to him.

  • bike

    The reason he cried is because all of the King’s horseman and all of the King’s men couldn’t put Greg Oden back together again.

  • Waggle

    I don’t blame him. I want to cry when I watch Portland play lately, sheesh.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    He can always go play one on one with Bill Nye until he gets a new job.

  • Jay F Weezy F stands for Franchise

    he’s going to be the next lakers head coach

  • snic

    Of course he cried you twit. What a horrible title fro an article. This is not Star magazine, we don’t want your gossip here. Being sacked from a team you love was emotional, as you wrote. If he didn’t cry, I’d be surprised and also worried that the team didn’t mean anything to him.

    Anyone who bashes Nate for this reaction: too bad you’ll never experience what Nate did, especially the part where he’s an NBA coach.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    The Blazers are tanking. They don’t want someone capable of eking out a playoff run if they’re tanking. That’s really all that’s happening here.

  • Louis

    It’s a joke that he didn’t win coach of the year with the Blazers

  • roybot

    Dont worry Nate, Theres plenty of job opportunities left in the league for a stand-up like you. I feel like Roy retiring really got to McMillain not only in coaching but personally. Nae easily had the best coach-player relationship with Roy out of all the Blazers, and leaned on him heavily in games.

  • iLL wiLL

    SMH. Turrible decision by the Blazers. This collection of players suck, it’s not Nate’s fault.

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    My favorite coach in The League.

  • http://dodgers.com Joey E.

    NBK could cry after being fired as a head coach. It’s not that hard.

  • Dr. DL

    i felt teary when i heard the news. the blazers brass seems determined to run every astute basketball mind out of town. nate did more with less than any coach i can think of in recent history and he did it consistantly and in spite of some absurd setbacks. it was time to clean house, no doubt, but i don’t think nate was part of the mess. of course he’ll have work again in no time. any team would jump at the chance to have him in the organization. as for the blazers i don’t know where they think they will find a better coach than the one they just fired. if this intern doesn’t work out maybe some of the ball boys are interested?


    As a Blazer fan, I am embarrassed and ticked off at the ownership and the management.
    Coach Nate did not deserve this. Just sad and infuriating.

  • Y.C.Chen

    what’s wrong with him crying? C’mon Slam, Grow up.

  • riverman

    It was necessary. Nate had lost the team and was not getting these guys on the same page. I think he has been deflated since Roy retired and Oden got reinjured. It was just one blow too many for Nate. He’ll get a good coaching gig somewhere soon. The Blazers needed a change as well. He had an overall losing record through his career and that didn’t help. 7 years is long enough to get out of the first round of the playoffs. I think Nate needs to learn to show some passion on the sideline. He’s a real X and O coach with little fire during games. His weakness is improvising and he’s not suited to a shortened season schedule. I wish him well. Go Blazers!

  • Bobbito

    I respect the man even as a nuggets fan. No offense to Aldridge but B. Roy and Pden were the future of this team and when both of them went down he did a terrific job of stepping up. No coach can really prepare for that and McMillan did a fine job of making this team a solid contender again. He’ll be back in the league sooner rather than later.

  • Kel

    I’m sad for Nate. He’s a true class act. I’m from Seattle and grew up watching him play and coach. He managed injuries so well, and I think it’s unfair to attribute the losses solely to him. He’s coached in Portland for seven years, and he was fired and that’s a harsh thing to face. So what if he cried? It means he cared. He’s gonna be heavily recruited. His next stop could possible be in LA with Kobe; I don’t think Mike Brown is going to last much longer… I hope someone rubs it in general management’s face when he gets a ring, because Nate is too classy to do it.

  • Jesse

    Hate to be the voice of dissent here but hearing that he cried only makes me think more that the decision was the right one. Who wants a crying coach to lead their team? This coach crying thing seems to becoming an epidemic lately in sports (examples here if you’re interested http://www.ranker.com/list/videos-of-coaches-crying/sportsyeah). There is no reason for these coaches to be crying in public. Do that at home. Lead in the public. That’s what they re paid to do.