Rick Adelman is leaving the Portland Trail Blazers with no hard feelings and he hopes fans remember the good times that his best teams brought to the city.
Less than 24 hours after being fired, Adelman met with the media Friday at Memorial Coliseum and spoke at length about his 11 years with the Blazers, the last 5 1/2 of them as head coach.
He admitted that it felt strange to walk into the building knowing he no longer was the coach.
“It’s more of a sense of loss because it’s been so special here,” he said. “You think back to the fans, when we were on a roll and everything else was going on. It’s been a special five or six years.
“I think my wife Mary Kay said it best. She woke up this morning and felt like we’d just lost in the finals. That’s how it feels.”
Adelman knows that feeling well. Twice his Blazers made it to the Finals, before losing to Detroit in 1990 and Chicago in 1992.
But there is no regret that he never made it to the top, he said. As he watches this year’s playoffs, he said, he realizes the greatness of the accomplishments of those earlier Blazers’ teams.
“One team is going to come out a winner and I guess everybody else loses,” he said. “But I don’t look at it that way, because I had the good fortune to be around a lot of winners in the last five years, and that’s the way I’m going to look at it.”
Adelman will receive about $1.5 million for the remaining time on his contract. He is uncertain whether he would return to coaching.
“If a job opens up and somebody is interested in me, I’d talk to them,” he said. “But I’m not actively going out and looking for anything right now.
“Sometimes you need to step away and see what you want to do with your life.”
He said he eventually might return to the Blazers in a front office job.
“I would be very open to coming back in the organization in some capacity in the future maybe,” he said. “But I think right now it’s best maybe that there is a change.”
Adelman said he wanted to be a part of owner Paul Allen’s rebuilding plans as coach and felt he could do the job. But he said he understood why Allen felt otherwise.
“There are no sour grapes,” Adelman said. “We’re leaving on very good terms ... I understand what he’s doing. I just hope it works out for him, the players, the organization and the fans of Portland.”
He admitted that this season, when the Blazers were an inconsistent 47-35 and were knocked out of the playoffs by Houston in the first round, was frustrating.
“Realistically, when you look at our team last year and you look at the results, yeah, the expectations were way out of line,” he said. “We were not a championship caliber team. We didn’t play like it, and I take responsibility for that to an extent.”
He rejected the often-heard criticism that he was unable to motivate his players and that he didn’t use his younger players enough.
“It gets down to a lot of personalities going for the same thing, the same goal,” he said. “If some people don’t have that in mind, you can be the greatest motivational speaker in the world and it isn’t going to work.
“I never thought I lost the ability to communicate anything. Apparently people perceive that you lose the ability to coach in two years. I don’t think that happens.”
The younger players didn’t play more, he said, because they weren’t as good as those who did play.
Adelman won 64 percent of his games, counting the playoffs, and never had a losing record in his five full seasons as coach. He said he won’t miss the second-guessing and criticism, and he hopes people remember what a team the Blazers had.
“Hopefully, what they’re going to realize, and it has nothing to do with me, is they had a special team here ... that gave people an awful lot of excitement,” he said.