Minutes before the Utah Jazz tipped off against the Houston Rockets for game 2, news broke that Utah’s Assistant coach Igor Kokoskov and the Phoenix Suns had agreed to terms on their head coaching position. This makes him the first head coach to be born outside of North America in NBA history.
My first thought was what about David Blatt? But after checking I learned something new. Blatt was actually born in the great city of Boston.
The Phoenix suns have to be ecstatic about the agreement. Igor is one of the best teachers of the hand that we have in the NBA right now. The player development program that Utah is instilling into their culture is turning heads around the NBA, and Igor has been a major contributing factor to that.
I’ve also heard rumors that he may try to take some others on the Jazz’ coaching staff to join him as assistants on his new journey. The likes of Alex Jensen is a name that comes to mind, as he has been widely known in Utah for developing players like Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles.
His most recent head coaching job was leading the Slovenian national team to the 2017 EuroBasket title. It was the country’s first title in its history.
Kokoskov has been an assistant in the NBA for 18 years, as like in 2000 he became the first assistant coach born outside North America.
Igor as an assistant coach helped lead the Jazz to the Western Conference semi finals over consecutive years for the first time since the Stockton and Malone era in Utah.
Igor Kokoskov is not unfamiliar with the Suns, or Phoenix for that matter. He was an assistant coach for them in 2010, and during his tenure there he became a United States citizen, where a ceremony was given to Igor on the court of Talking Sticks Resorts Arena. He’s even maintained a home there since his time there.
It is a good day for Suns fans, as it will be their 19th head coach in franchise history. Hopefully he can help this young team reach heights that they haven’t been able to reach. Although they don’t have the most impressive roster, that is exactly why a guy like Igor is being brought in. He will also have the opportunity and influence to select one of the nation’s top NCAA prospects in the highly anticipated 2018-2019 NBA draft this summer.
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