Carlos Knox, Carlos Know, he’s the London Lightning’s man, if he can’t do it no one can.
That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the Lightning’s new bench boss is everything that former head coach Micheal Ray Richardson wasn’t.
Richardson won back-to-back championships in London’s first two years, but in the third year the wheels started to come off a bit. That’s saying a lot considering the Lightning's 2013-14 season ended in a Game 7 loss to the eventual National Basketball League of Canada champions Windsor Express.
Knox has the credentials to back up his hiring.
The 39-year-old etched his name in the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) record books more than any other player in the school's history. He was an assistant coach at his alma mater before being the top bench boss for teams in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association and overseas in Saudi Arabia.
The Lightning’s press release of Knox’s arrival had a glowing endorsement from Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw. Knox provided a list of references to London general manager Taylor Brown stacked with NBA players phone numbers.
His résumé only pads what he brings to the table — the real reason he was brought in.
The acquisition of Knox isn’t just a changing of the guard, it’s a new way of thinking for the team.
Richardson only wanted polished players on the squad. The result was 23 players coming in-and-out of a 12-man roster last year.
Knox is the complete opposite. The days of a five-game tryout (like in the case of former players like Maurice Carter and Eric Frederick who were released soon after signing with London) might be over.
Knox has developed players in college and even worked with Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill, who’s the only IUPUI player to ever be drafted to the NBA.
“My deal is player development. I love to develop players on and off the court,” Knox said, adding the team will focus on defence and rebounding. “We’re going to make sure our guys are getting what we need out of every single moment that they’re here and I feel like once they go through that process then it’s going to be a very good situation for them.”
On the list of Brown’s requirements was a coach with contacts. Knox connections run from the NBA to overseas. He has rooted himself deep in the Midwestern U.S. basketball scene and says he keeps in regular contact with six NBA teams.
Knox has hosted a summer league called the Knox Indy Pro-Am League for the last six years in Indianapolis. NBA stars like Kevin Durant, John Wall, Lance Stephenson and Paul George have come out to play in games.
Knox usually brings in about 10 to 12 coaches and managers from overseas to check out his league. Now that he has his eye on bringing some talent north of the border, Knox said he might invite a less management to his summer program.
There’s a waiting list to get into the Knox’s pro-am league, but Brown said three Lightning players were able to get involved this year. The GM wouldn’t say which players joined.
“For us to be able to sneak guys in (Knox’s pro-am league) to see what they can really do against top-notch competition is priceless,” Brown said.
It seems the Lightning got their man. Brown offered Knox the job when he was driving the coach back to the airport after he came to the Forest City for an-person interview.
The Lightning now have a change in coach and philosophy. What fans want to know, though, is will there be a change in last year’s results.
“As far as sideline antics, no that’s not me,” Knox said. “I’m very demanding, and I’m very in touch and in tune with my players. I want to make sure every opportunity that we get we’re on the same page.”