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From Coached To Coach: Former NBA PG Milt Palacio Coaches Long Island Nets

Milt Palacio | Associate Head Coach & Head Coach | Long Island Nets & Belize National Team

What I enjoy most is watching that little light bulb go off when the players really get it. I love it when I show a player something old school or just fundamentals of the game and they try it.

Milt Palacio

Associate Head Coach & Head Coach

Long Island Nets & Belize National Team

× The interview with Milt Palacio was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as the Associate Head Coach & Head Coach of the Long Island Nets & Belize National Team.

My role as the Associate Head Coach of the Long Island Nets starts every day with a team meeting about how we will attack practice and what to touch on to prepare for our upcoming opponents or how to correct previous game errors. After that, I put the groups together for individual workouts before practice starts. Depending on the load of the day these sessions last 10 or 15 minutes, they’re what we like to call “vitamins” (vital minutes). Then, we have practice.

My role for the LIN is the defensive coach so, I concentrate on that side of the ball and make sure the point guards are running their teams. After practice, it’s time for the team to get up stationary shots. And when that’s over, we have a brief coaches meeting to wrap up the day.

Coaching the Belize National Team is a little different. I have far more responsibilities. I have to do all the work! I’m the manager, the director of operations and the head coach. I do everything from planning practices to washing the team’s laundry at my condo. It’s a lot of work but I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything!

In Belize, I do have assistant coaches but they also work full-time jobs aside from their role with the team. They’re busy people and their time is limited so they may or may not come to practice. It’s a lot of work behind the scenes that people couldn’t imagine me doing as the Head Coach, but hey, I don’t complain.

Before becoming a coach, you had a great NBA career and a great playing career overseas after that. Did you always plan on coaching after your playing career and how do you feel like all your playing experience has shaped the coach that you are today?

I didn’t at all, I never considered a coaching career while I was playing. How I began coaching was because my college coach reached out to me and told me that he had a spot on his staff and felt I would be perfect for the job.

When I got there that’s when I started to get comfortable, and I enjoyed being able to help the guys get better and teach them. My playing career definitely helped prepare me for coaching. My experience playing in many countries with the best talent in the world definitely helped me to be able to help the kids I coach and to have patience with them. Coaching really tests your patience and communication skills.

As a Canadian, I would be remiss not to ask you about your time in Toronto as a Raptor. What were your thoughts when they were crowned champs of the 2019-2020 season? Do you think they will be able to defend their title in the upcoming NBA Restart?

I thought it was great! I have all kinds of memories of being there in Toronto and at the then Air Canada Centre… I loved the amazing fans, Bloor St, the Eaton Centre…

I feel like the 2019-2020 Raptors had a great run with a little luck and a great acquisition of Kawhi. They will have a chance to defend their title for sure but it’ll be hard without that guy! I love Siakam, I think he’s great, but he’s just not ready to lead them to an NBA Championship.

With the restart coming up I feel like it’s anyone’s trophy to take! Many of those guys didn’t have access to courts so they didn’t shoot for a month or so. I’m sure there will be some ugly training camps and even the first couple of games they may be rusty but it’ll get good and eventually be good basketball. It will be very interesting and fun to watch!

When you were in Toronto with the Nets, there was a really, horrible rumor, which you have already received a ton of press about. Thank goodness it was a hoax. I cannot imagine how you must have felt! Did you or your family ever find the route of the inaccurate information?

We definitely tried to and even the Nets tried to research the site the rumour came from but no luck really. It was unfortunate and distasteful. But, I’m still here so I think that’s what’s most important. I can safely say that I did receive a lot of calls when the news broke about my “death”. I never knew I was that loved!

Having played, coached and been the Director of Player Development at the University of Idaho, what facet of the game have you enjoyed the most? Why?

What I enjoy most is watching that little light bulb go off when the players really get it. I love it when I show a player something old school or just fundamentals of the game and they try it.

I like the look they give me when it works or the conversation we have when they say “Man coach… it worked! What we worked on really worked!”.

I also really love an underdog story because I was one so I get it and get where they are coming from mentally.

My buzzer-beater with the Celtics that got me the nickname Miracle Milt was one of those underdog moments. It’s funny, Johnny Jo, the equipment guy gave me that name and still calls me Miracle till this day

I do definitely miss playing. I miss the camaraderie in the locker room, the fans, the nervousness and sweaty hands before the game and the scouting. It’s the little things that I miss most, more than the big things. Coaching is great but you can’t think for them [laughs]. I love helping players grow their basketball IQ to exceed their talent!

Stacey Leawood Stacey's Final Thoughts

In a seven-year NBA career, from 1999 to 2006, with the Vancouver Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz, Milt Palacio became a household name for most avid basketball fans. Not only was he recognized for his super catchy name, but also for his steady point guard play and team leadership. Now as an Associate Head Coach of the Nets organization and the Head Coach of the Belize National Team, Milt Palacio has the opportunity to use what he has learned as a player to be a great coach and pursue a post-playing career he never imagined pursuing. It was great getting to speak to Milt Palacio and see his passion for the players is what he enjoys most about coaching. His players are very fortunate to have a player-centered coach and I know he feels just as fortunate to have the opportunity to coach the next generation of NBA players!

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