Bradshaw Won’t Change Style : Basketball: Suspension that followed shoving incident has not mellowed Simi Valley coach.
Although Simi Valley High basketball Coach Dean Bradshaw intends to put his past behind him, he can’t guarantee that it won’t sneak up on him in the future.
Bradshaw, who shoved senior guard Sam Rodriguez to the floor during an on-court altercation at a game in January and was subsequently suspended by school officials for the final nine games of the season, is a taskmaster.
He sees nothing wrong with his style of coaching.
“If someone said, ‘Dean, you have to change, or you have to bring down a level of your intensity, your competitiveness,’ I would not coach,” Bradshaw said. “I mean, you gotta be yourself. We all have our own different personalities and I think we get comfortable with those personalities. If I had to change that, I couldn’t be as successful.”
Bradshaw is happy to be back coaching at Simi Valley. He has guided the Pioneers to a 17-5 record in summer leagues and is preparing for his seventh season as head coach.
Last season was not the first time Bradshaw’s aggressive court behavior resulted in a suspension. He sat out one game in 1991 after a verbal altercation with game officials following a 65-62 overtime loss to Camarillo. Bradshaw allegedly followed the officials to their dressing quarters at the conclusion of the game at Simi Valley and had to be restrained by Jack Harris, a teacher at the school.
Three years later, Bradshaw found himself under scrutiny again. Although Bradshaw regrets his actions toward Rodriguez, he is ambivalent regarding the blame.
“I think it was just a burst from the player and a burst from the coach,” he said. “It was obviously a very unfortunate situation for our program, for the actual player and for the coach. It was a reaction and it’s nothing (I’m) real proud of, by any means. But there’s nothing you can do about it now.”
Apparently, Rodriguez and his parents don’t see it that way.
Rodriguez, who stayed with the team after the incident, is still receiving threats from callers who blame him for Bradshaw’s suspension.
Sam Rodriguez Sr. said his son has suffered enough backlash.
“I got caught up in all the press in the beginning and I don’t think it helped the situation,” Rodriguez said. “We still get comments, that’s why I don’t want to fan the flames anymore.”
Daniel Gonzalez, Rodriguez’ attorney, has filed a claim with the Simi Valley Unified School District asking for $1 million in damages for Rodriguez. The action is the first step toward bringing a lawsuit against Bradshaw and the district.
“We would have been happy to forget about it, but Sam has been continuously bombarded by teachers, former players and coaches with the stigma of having caused Bradshaw’s suspension,” Gonzalez said. “There is no doubt that Bradshaw conducted himself in an inappropriate way, and he is blaming his inappropriate actions on a student-athlete.
“We can’t have adults in positions of responsibility over our youths who can’t control their anger.”
Rodriguez and Bradshaw have had no contact since the incident. Bradshaw made a public apology several days later, but has made no attempt to speak with Rodriguez.
And if he had the opportunity?
“I would say what I’ve been saying all along, that I regret the situation and I think we both made mistakes and that not any one mistake is any greater than the other. Can we accept that we both made a mistake? I can.”
Although Bradshaw did not fight the suspension, he wishes the situation was handled differently.
“I’m a firm believer that you handle your problems from within your team, and we really were not given that opportunity,” he said.
Bradshaw will start the 1994-95 season with only one returning player.
The coach has not discussed the incident with the new players, nor does he plan to.
“We’ve turned the page and we’re going to go on and continue to be successful,” he said.
Times staff writer Steve Henson contributed to this story.