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Q&A: Meet Lawrence Frank, Your Newest Head Coach

By Kevin Alan Lamb

(248) 752-1103


Lawrence Frank is last new head coach the Detroit Pistons will see for a while: so take a minute and get to know him. With the fate of the 2011-12 season hanging in the balance, one certainty is that the man behind the wheel in Detroit is the man for the job. There’s no “dog-and-pony-show” this time around: Frank, like the city his Pistons play for, understands what it entails to “go to work,” day-in and day-out. Born without the natural abilities to make his high school basketball team, Frank has internalized a devout work ethic stemming from the support and belief his parents constantly shinned upon himself and his dreams. Mentored by the legendary Bob Knight while a student manager at Indiana University, Frank believes the Pistons will claw their way back to the rafters through evolution, passion, and sweat-equity.

What do you remember most about your first day as student manager under Coach Knight at Indiana?

His commanding presence. The moment he enters a room everyone turns and looks. While I am not from Indiana, there is no denying the great reverence Coach Knight is held in. Other than that he made sure I stayed in my lane, and remembered my role.

You have been described as the “ultimate student of the game,” why do you think that is so?

All of us are students. We want to get better by studying all facets of the game. We’re lifelong learners. You have to be able to range outside of your comfort zone, have humility, learn, and grow in every facet. It’s not simply about becoming a better professional, but a better person, father, and husband.

What is the best advice Coach Knight ever gave you?

It’s more of what he stood for. If you work hard and are trustworthy it will carry you a long way. Master your subject manner, have confidence, be reliable and sincere. He is a great mentor and teacher to have at age 18. With him you started at the bottom and were given nothing. Everything you got, you earned – sweat equity.

Growing up in New Jersey, who were your idols?

My parents and my brothers were unbelievably supportive of all of my dreams. They always brought sunshine versus rain. At age 13 I wanted to be an NBA coach and they never diminished those dreams. They told me to make a plan instead. As far as a player – it would have to be Bernard King, of the Knicks. And coaches, well we were lucky in the east coast area: Hubie Brown, Mike Fratello, Rick Pitino, Chuck Hill, Coach Knight, Dean Smith, Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). There were just so many.

You never made your high school team, now you’re coaching in the NBA. What advice can you give to other basketball minded individuals that may not have the tools to play the game, but dream of one day coaching?

We all learn from failure. Every obstacle presents another opportunity. Don’t let someone else define you, or your passion.

Tell us about the emotions you felt after winning your first 13 games as an NBA head coach?

Throughout the streak we were only concerned with winning that game. It was never about a streak. We focused on getting better and winning that game.

Discuss your credit/role in cultivating player/manager relationships under Doc Rivers in Boston.

Doc doesn’t need any help, bottom line. He’s an outstanding coach that understands his players. He doesn’t let anyone violate the culture of his team.

You are a defensive first coach, in a city that most closely identifies with its team for its work ethic and defensive prowess. Elaborate on the match, and the opportunity.

We are in a unique position where our core values align with that of the city: blue collar, go out and earn it, no short cuts, like the city. We are going back to earning our way, every day, by embracing the core values of a storied franchise. It’s very much back to basics, a cultural embrace of hard work, day-in, and day-out.

What words of hope can you offer the people of Detroit, and Piston faithful, that their team will put aside individual gripes and once again be committed to going to work, day in and day out in 2011?

The past is the past. We are moving forward and will represent the city with great pride for the name on the front of our jerseys.

I understand Coach Knight invited you to a party he was hosting, only to ask that you valet for his guests. What’s a Bob Knight party like?

The outside is chilly. Coach Knight invited me for his birthday my sophomore or junior year, I was like “are you kidding me?” I showed up and they told me I’d be outside parking his guest’s cars. But after 45 minutes he invited me into the party, it was something.

When you’re not on the court, how do you like to spend your time?

I’ve got a great family. They’re my first priority, my wife, and two beautiful daughters. Most of my time is spent working, when I’m not, I like to be with them. But I do love to read and watch movies.

What is your favorite movie?

There are so many, but The Godfather, it’s a classic.

What kind of music do you dig?

Eminem, Kid Rock, Motown! Bob Seager. Who else is from Detroit!? I have a great appreciation for a wide-variety of artists: rap, r&b, James Taylor.

Who do you want to win game one of the World Series tonight?

My team’s out.